In Paris in 1910, William Zorach was a student of traditional art schools. He met and fell in love with a fellow student, the brilliant Marguerite Thompson. The two decided to break with past methods of painting, to see the world with fresh eyes, to behold, as Emerson wrote “God and nature face to face.” They became pioneers of the Modern Art movement in America. After moving to New York City in 1912, Zorach found escaping to the country each summer was important for inspiration. “The richness of invention in nature was unbelievable.” In 1923 William and Marguerite purchased a farm on Georgetown Island in Maine, which they returned to every summer. Next to the vastness of the open sea, perched on the edge of land, Zorach found “the bigness of nature and the infinite sky.” Maine’s craggy coastline of ancient bedrock headlands joyfully thunders with the arrival of Atlantic rollers breaking on beach and rock. In an environment consisting only of sand, sea, and sky; in which the elements were ocean spray, ocean fog, the rhythm of the sea, tremendous waves breaking their weight against the solid shelf of sand; Zorach walked alone in meditation.
“Art is not a process of copying nature, but seeing in nature that element of magic, of power, of mystery, that comes to us at moments of receptivity.” William Zorach
A painter, Zorach began carving in 1917, and working with stone in 1921. He realized it was his true métier. Self-taught as a sculptor, his direct carving was a break from the 19th century tradition of clay models. In direct carving, the sculptor divines an image directly from his material, its distribution of weight, its balance, its attitude. The sculpture would emerge organically from the stone or wood. Zorach’s sculpture became elemental. “He was unique in often using very hard, colored, and patterned stones like granite boulders, which he often found on walks. His work was inspired by the stones he used and is more expressive (especially of love, strength, and inner peace), spontaneous, and simplified than that of his predecessors. There is also a spirituality to his carvings,” Zorach Collection). Zorach enjoyed using the same tools as the ancients; the adze, the hammer, and chisel. He became one of the best-known and respected sculptors of his day.
“Real sculpture is something monumental, something hewn from solid mass, something with repose, with inner and outer form, with strength and power.” William Zorach
Lot 859 Black Cat (1947) According to grandson Peter Zorach: “Black Cat was originally a black stone carving… If they interested him, my grandfather would collect stones near his home in Maine, usually along the shore where they were more exposed, and would imagine what he could create from them. The original stone was apparently gray on the outside but when carved and polished was black. He made bronze casts of many of his carved works.” Family and pets were models. One can only imagine what Zorach saw while walking the beach. Rounded boulders became men and women, children, cats, dogs, even guinea pigs. For Zorach, the beach must have been teeming with granite life after a storm.
Lot 860 Pair of Pumas (1950) “William Zorach was commissioned by a Mrs Gladwin of Santa Barbara to make a pair of life-sized pumas for her garden. After studying two magnificent specimens in the Staten Island Zoo he modeled the pumas in clay and cast them in bronze. He also made a large pair of pumas in stone that were cast into bronze. One of the large stone pumas is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Azalea Garden. Like ancient echoes of the Late Period Egyptian bronze Gayer-Anderson Cat (ca 664-332 BCE, British Museum), this pair of household guardians regard each other with a graceful nod. With their quiet strength and dignity, they could well be idols of the goddess Bastet, whose form was originally that of a fierce lioness- before being compacted into the shape of a domestic cat. Protector of all of Lower Egypt, the king, and the Sun God Ra, these pumas, if asked nicely by human supplicants performing the proper rituals, will nobly guard a new kingdom.
“This is my sculpture. It’s a sort of inner vision. It is seeing with a spirit that is timeless. It is love that is felt so intensely that the artist has to record it to give it back to humanity…” William Zorach
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Zorach, William, Art is My Life, World Publishing Co., 1967.
Nicoll, Jessica, To Be Modern, Portland Museum of Art, 2001.
The Zorach Collection, The Art of William Zorach, www.zorachart.com.
William Zorach Interview with Edward R Murrow, Person to Person, March 15, 1957.
Cloudscape is a word coined by American artist and author Eric Sloane (1905-1985). His largest cloud painting is a 58 foot by 75 foot mural covering an entire wall of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
In the 1920’s Sloane was hired to paint signs for Coney Island’s Steeplechase Amusement Park, which was being rebuilt after a fire. In exchange for painting hotel signs, he lived in the Half Moon Hotel, where he met guests to include the “Ashcan Eight,” and, because of the nearby Floyd Bennett Field, the great airmen of early aviation history. He studied with Robert Henri, George Luks, and John Sloan at the Art Students League and flew (and played poker) with aviation pioneers. His friend, pilot Wiley Post, once said “Someday, a fellow will come along and paint nothing but the sky itself.” This inspired Sloane to spend the next year doing exactly that. His first sale was a cloudscape in oil. It was bought by Amelia Earhart.
Sloane decided to learn all he could about the weather and collected old farmer diaries and almanacs (finding kindred spirit Benjamin Franklin, whom he considered “possibly the greatest expert on weather”). Fascinated by the connection of early Americans to nature, he was romanced by their descriptions of “burdensome” stormy days, fair days “filled with life,” and the “thicke aire” of an approaching rain. He wrote his own weather manual, which was used by the Air Force for a wartime instruction pamphlet. He then attended M.I.T. but for him, the mathematics of meteorology lacked romance. His professor Sverre Petterssen was later to write the preface for his book Clouds, Air, and Wind: “Artists have striven for centuries to express nature in colors, forms, and symbols, but only rarely do we see the sky itself as an object of art. Eric Sloane is not primarily interested in mountains and meadows, castles and cattle, hills and horizons. His main interest is centered around the mountains of clouds, meadows of fog, hills of stratus, the skyscrapers of storm clouds, and the castles of air.”
From an old children’s magazine he learned to build a cloud catcher box. A box with a glass bottom painted black enables the artist to see the delicate coloring of the sky. The sky is full of color, but when looking right at it, sunlight blinds the eye. Sloane created a poem of grays. “The artist’s tricks come closest to being rules: he who can paint a sky with the least blue is the most capable artist. The blueness of sky is really an illusion, for air is colorless and space is black.” He used manganese blue, a bright, transparent cyan blue, as the only blue in his palette. In lot 806 it is mixed with burnt sienna, forming cool, neutral grays. Sloane also used the cloud catcher box to better see shafts of sunlight and shadow in the sky, often referred to as “the sun drawing water,” and visible in lot 806. Weather expert Sloane enjoyed knowing that “the sun is always drawing water because heat always causes evaporation, so the shafts of shadow are really areas where the sun is not drawing water,” and, “Although the sun shafts might appear to spread out, they are always completely parallel because of the immeasurable distance of their light source.”(Sloane, Eric, For Spacious Skies)
Lot 806 is a summer hay harvest, probably August, in New England. Tiny figures are busy under a sky of climbing clouds. “On any hot afternoon after the sun-warmed earth has been heating the atmosphere since morning and there is “thunder in the air”, you can usually look to any western quadrant and see the darkness of cold-front clouds looming on the horizon… The cold-front thunderhead is most typical of the American summer… the front of an approaching cold air mass slopes downward in snowplow fashion, it plows up the warmer air into high cumulonimbus or vertical thunderhead clouds about every ten miles along the front.” (FSS)
Eric Sloane loved that American skies are different from any other. He insisted you could tell where you are in America by looking upward. ”The United States weather is controlled by six moving air masses and combinations thereof, a solution that daily baffles even the more expert weathermen. The effects of these mixtures produce Vermont skies, Florida thunderheads, New Mexico cloudscapes, and Maine fogs.” The winds swirling around pressure systems, clockwise around high and counterclockwise around low, has led to its own branch of Americana. “The most important weather sign of all is the direction and tendencies of the wind…The part that wind has played in our folklore gives it the right to be known as a phase of Americana. Only in America could the antique weather vane reach such importance. Not only a work of art, but an actual farm instrument…” (FSS)
Sloane loved impending rain: “Lowering air pressure releases gases and odors that stimulate animal sensitivity. It is natural to presume that humans, too react to pre-storm weather; at least they feel some sort of restlessness conducive to creativity… ideas are stimulated by the slight reduction of oxygen in his arteries, possibly to the extent of one good glass of wine.” (Sloane, Eric, Eighty)
Another Sloane signature present in lot 806 is the church steeple, which he viewed as the meeting of Heaven and Earth, or the finger of man pointing toward heaven. “Once when I bought the work of a famous Hudson River School painter, I felt the urge to forge such a touch. Later when I donated the piece to a museum, an art critic called attention to the distant church. “That faraway spire,” he wrote, “is the final touch of the painter’s rare genius.” I suppose I should have deleted the forgery before donating the painting but I’m sure the artist, who has long departed, would forgive me…” (Eighty)
Sloane believed we all carry within us some of the divine. He had a “happy accident” theory of painting: starting immediately with shapes of light and shade, applying “gobs of paint with a house-painting brush (as much as four inches wide). The result is that very frequently a cloud effect appears (completely by accident) which is created far beyond the possibilities of whatever talent I might have. The effect inspires the whole rest of my work.”(FSS)
Sloane worked from memory, as the sky he painted changed every few seconds. He regarded art as a kind of remembering, saying: “Very often the art buyer is not buying art as much as buying back a lost piece of his own life which to him is most valuable. We all have long-ago instants, forgotten memories, poignant moods, beautiful moments that we’d give anything to relive; only music or art can bring them back..”(FSS) In spite of this, Sloane deliberately never dated his own paintings. He lived very much in the moment, completely immersed in whatever he was doing, be it painting barns, collecting Americana, writing books, building a museum, meteorology, or studying the aesthetics of the atmosphere.
Sloane was not restrained by traditional painting practices. In 1924 a salesman gave sign painter Sloane samples of a new building material Masonite, which he immediately adopted for his paintings. He used it because “It is nearly indestructible… and can be sawed to size, like cropping a picture.” Sloane cut works down to proper composition dimensions. A four foot painting might end up half that size. “My first gold medal was won with a painting that I had sawed almost in half to fit the size requirements of the show. A saw is an important part of my studio equipment.”(80). Another maverick studio habit was his use of unleaded gasoline instead of turpentine. He liked that it dried quicker and disappeared completely, leaving pure oil paint behind. Sloane also utilized broken brush handles to scratch in grass patterns, many rags, razor blades, and pencils. Friend Andrew Wyeth was amazed by Sloane’s “unorthodox painting methods for creating textures and lines,” calling him “an Artistic Treasure of Americana.”(Wigley, Michael, Eric Sloane’s America, Forward by Mimi Sloane)
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Malvina Hoffman (New York, 1885-1966) was taught by Auguste Rodin from 1910 until 1917, learning to sculpt in a realistic style. Moving back to New York after Rodin’s death, she rented a mews apartment in a little cul-de-sac called Sniffen Court (along with a small colony of artists: sculptors Harriet Frishmuth and Edward McCartan, Cole Porter, and an amateur comedy club). She began to work with members of the Ballets Russes, mainly Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky.
The stance of this young Dionysus is graceful and strong. The sinuous form of his pose is an s-curve. It involves the whole length of his body. In spite of the movement, the sculpture is balanced on its center of gravity like a dancer. It is a balletic pose. Pointing to the possibility of the boy being a young Dionysus are the grapes, the merriment, a pair of tiny curving horns, and the presence of his sacred animal, the panther.
Only a few large Boy and Panther Cub bronze fountains were produced by the Roman Bronze Works foundry, most were smaller apartment-sized castings.
Hoffman is most famous as the sculptor commissioned by Chicago’s Field Museum in the 1930’s to create an exhibit of 104 bronzes of peoples from around the world.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Elie Nadelman (New York/France, Poland, 1882-1946) is known for abstract, elegant, stylized sculptures, and for his original, modern aesthetic.
Nadelman’s style evolved throughout his career as he sought new ways to achieve perfection. He explored influences from long ago and far away to create his modern style. Early on, he studied the sculptures of ancient Greece and created a series of heads, figures, and drawings experimenting with how far he could push classical principles to describe form. In the September 30th/ October 1st Americana and International sale at Pook & Pook, a bronze by Nadelman illustrates this modern-day manifestation of the ancient. In Head of a Man, c. 1906-1907, he has achieved a manner approaching geometrical abstraction, with eyes and mouth portrayed as slits, the long opposing curves of the face meeting at the point of the chin suggest volume and harmony. Nadelman’s deep knowledge of aesthetic history and pursuit of classical economy resulted in a style uniquely his own, symbolic and simplified. Head of a Man looks upon the modern world with ancient eyes, bemused; Mercury in a bowler hat.
Further experimentation in 1907 led Nadelman to create an even more abstract, curvilinear head that, along with his earlier drawings, influenced the development of Cubism. After viewing Nadelman’s head and drawings in 1907, Picasso created his own truly Cubist version in 1909.
Nadelman continued to pursue his own fluid, elegant, style of abstraction, defining it in a 1910 Camera Work article, as “significant form.”
But what is this true form of art? It is significant and abstract, composed of geometrical elements. Here is how I realize it. I employ no other line than the curve, which possesses freshness and force. I compose these curves so as to bring them into accord or into opposition to one another. In that way I obtain the life of form, harmony… The subject of any work for me is nothing but a pretext for creating significant forms, relations of forms which create a new life that has nothing to do with life in nature.
Forced to emigrate at the start of WWI, Nadelman became a vital force in the artistic and cultural life of America. His impact was wide-ranging. We feel it here, at Pook & Pook, even today. Elie Nadelman was one of the first serious collectors of American folk art, amassing the finest collection in the nation. Nadelman was among the first to recognize the merit of a humble Cumberland County, Pennsylvania woodcarver named Wilhelm Schimmel.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
The September 15th Decorative Arts sale features a number of objects with a nautical theme. Lot 2544 is an ingenious shipboard light fixture: a scarce wrought iron gimbal-mounted ship’s fat lamp, mid 19th c., with three inner gimbaled hoops. In the 19th century, fire was the most dangerous thing to have on board a ship, but necessary to see by below decks. Until the 1850’s whale oil was the preferred fuel for shipboard lamps. When tilted, as ships are wont to do, the lamps could go out or, infinitely worse, cause a fire. Crew members were assigned to watch the lamps, in order to prevent fires. This gimbaled lamp could pivot with the roll of the ship, attached by pins to its exterior support, which was itself hung from the ceiling. This example is rare in having a three-axis structure, meaning it could rotate on three axes and keep the flame upright as the ship rolled in the waves. In his classic novel “Two Years Before the Mast,” Richard Henry Dana, Jr. described his 1834-36 voyage from Boston to California, around Cape Horn on the merchant brig Pilgrim. The sailors’ sleeping quarters were in the forecastle, where a single swinging overhead lamp was permitted. It had to be extinguished by 8:00pm. No lamp at all was permitted in the store room on account of flammable items.
The lamp would have come in handy in stormy sailing on the rough seas depicted in lot 2106, a 19th c. oil on canvas. Waves like stiff peaks of meringue surround the ship, which is looking a little worse for wear with a hole in its flag. Worryingly, a sailor appears to have just thrown a bundle over the side. There has been a sea of trouble in lot 2119, an oil on canvas of shipwreck survivors clinging to debris in a moonlit sea. The lamp would have done some tricky balancing in the ship in lot 2116, by Henry Van Wyk (Dutch, 1833-1899). The oil on wood panel is a harbor scene with a ship sailing into the wind, in which the viewer can almost feel the salty sea spray. Calmer seas are to be found in the Straits of Gibraltar, in lot 2267, a watercolor circa 1849, in which an Ottoman trading ship plies the coast.
Distant seas are represented by lot 2016, a South Pacific patriotic needlework, circa 1900, with crossed flags, center wreath, and a spread-wing eagle. This good silk embroidery is an American sailor’s souvenir of a tour in the Pacific. At the turn of the century, the U.S. established naval bases in the Philippine Islands in Subic Bay, and in the Hawaiian Islands in 1908 at Pearl Harbor, solidifying an American naval presence in the Pacific. During President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907-1909 Cruise of the Great White Fleet diplomatic tour and show of power , sixteen battleships cruised around the world making public relations stops. Fourteen thousand American sailors made the trip. In the port of Yokohama, Japan, trapunto embroidered banners such as these were sold as souvenirs. The sailors would often have their photos, ships, and ports of call incorporated into the design. Brought home and framed, the embroideries served as mementos of adventure on the high seas.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
An allegory of the element of water, Crest of the Wave is all about motion and lightness and gravity. Harriet Frishmuth (American, 1880-1980) was a Beaux Arts sculptor of the early 20th century. She studied briefly with Rodin, and then at the Academie Colarossi.
The early influence of Rodin proved strong. According to Frishmuth, he instructed students to ”first always look at the silhouette of a subject and be guided by it; second, remember that movement is the transition from one attitude to another. It is a bit of what was and a bit of what is to be.” (Arsine Schmavonian, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, American Sculptor, Syracuse University Library Courier 9, October, 1971.)
In 1913, Frishmuth moved to New York City, living in the artist enclave Sniffen Court. She was inspired by the Fokine ballet (as opposed to her friend and neighbor Malvina Hoffman, who preferred the Ballets Russes), and found a muse in a young Yugoslavian ballerina named Desha Delteil. With the athletic and exuberant Delteil as her primary model, Frishmuth’s art began to express originality and life. Her sculptures became dynamic and full of motion. According to Frishmuth, Delteil posed for ninety percent of her more important works.
Frishmuth’s Crest of the Wave, 1928, is pure motion with a strong and clear silhouette. The motion is of falling forward, like the crest of a wave, almost at the moment of stride where both feet are unweighed. The figure’s upper body sails forward elegantly, as though with every stride she will light down on the crest of another wave.
In the 1920s, Frishmuth’s youthful, strong, and free sculptures embodied much of the liberation of the suffragette and flapper age. According to Loring Dodd Holmes in The Golden Age of American Sculpture, 1936, Frishmuth’s figures “represent the modern ideal of energy, of action, of swift movement… as representative of our times as the Venus of Melos of its (time).”
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Pook & Pook Auction’s two-day sale September 30th and October 1st promises to be one of its biggest Americana & International events to date.
The sale will begin with the Pennsylvania Mocha collection. The first three quarters of this noted collection was sold over the course of multiple Americana auctions at Pook & Pook starting in October 2019, where 62 lots bringing a total of $61,616. The last batch of the collection promises to be equally as exciting. Amongst the 65 lots is an excellent large Mocha bowl with earth worm decoration, estimated at $3/4,000.
Next on the block will be The Estate of Charles W. Wilson of Red Lion, Pennsylvania, featuring 86 lots of Pennsylvania Chippendale and Philadelphia Queen Anne furniture, and an extraordinary collection of early tall case clocks. The collection highlight is The Taylor Family Queen Anne mahogany easy chair, Philadelphia, ca. 1760, an early example of American upholstered seating furniture in the Queen Anne style, estimated at $20/30,000. Other notable furniture lots include a pair of Queen Anne walnut compass seat dining chairs circa 1760 estimated at $8/12,000, a Boston, Massachusetts Chippendale mahogany secretary desk, circa 1770, estimated at $10/20,000, and a Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania Queen Anne tiger maple high chest estimated at $8/12,000. The clocks include desirable examples from 18th century Philadelphia clock makers. Of importance is a rare New York Federal mahogany musical tall case clock, ca. 1790, estimate $20/30,000. A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Chippendale walnut tall case clock by William Huston, ca. 1775 is estimated at $8/12,000; and a rare English mahogany tall case clock by Joseph Skinner Winterbonn at $15/20,000.
The Americana sale at Pook & Pook always offers a quantity of fine furniture, and this sale is no exception. Top lots include a Chester County, Pennsylvania walnut line and berry inlaid blanket chest, dated 1782, estimate $15/20,000, and a Chester County walnut line and berry spice chest, ca. 1760, estimated at $10/15,000. Also from Chester County is a Queen Anne walnut spice chest, ca. 1760, estimate $6/12,000. Another lot not to miss is a rare Philadelphia combback Windsor armchair, ca. 1760 and branded by Thomas Gilpin, estimate $8/12,000. Three Soap Hollow pieces grace the sale, as does a dower chest by The Embroidery Artist, ca. 1797. New England furniture includes an important Massachusetts Federal mahogany three-part secretary desk, ca. 1805, attributed to the shop of John and Thomas Seymour, estimate $8/12,000, a Massachusetts Federal mahogany card table, ca. 1800, also attributed to the shop of John and Thomas Seymour, estimate $8/12,000.
Other objects include a variety of folk art, frakturs, and samplers . Of note is a Pennsylvania redware plate, possibly by Diehl, at $3/5,000, and a New Jersey spoon rack at $4/8,000. A fine miniature Pennsylvania painted pine blanket chest, ca. 1810, is $6/9,000. A Lancaster, Pennsylvania painted Weber dressing box is estimated at $8/12,000. An extremely rare Pennsylvania German large cutwork valentine for Johannes Schaffer, who was born in Philadelphia ca. 1788, is estimated at $6/8,000. A collection of weathervanes includes a rare copper butterfly, 19th c, at $5/8,000, and a molded copper jumping horse and hoop, ca. 1870, estimated at $6/9,000. Frakturs include a vibrant Adam Wertz, Paradise Township, York County, PA ink and watercolor fraktur with a large eagle, dated 1835, estimate $3/5,000, and works by the Blousy Angel Artist and Reverend Henry Young. Maps include a scarce Thomas Holmes map of Philadelphia, ca. 1683, the first printed map of the city.
Pook & Pook continues its tradition of bringing folk art carvings by Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890) to market. This sale offers seven Schimmels, including a spread wing eagle estimated at $12/18,000. A major work of folk art offered is an important Boston, Massachusetts needlework, ca. 1780, depicting two couples in front of a Georgian brick home with a young woman, leaping dog, and African American servant pouring glasses of wine. An early typed note verso states that the needlework descended in the family of Revolutionary War General Christian Febiger (1749-1796), estimate $20/30,000.
The theme of The Transferware Collection of Robert Galli is the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette, the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War, to America on August 16, 1824. Featured are 61 lots of Historical Blue Staffordshire Landing of Lafayette pieces, 10 lots of Welcome Lafayette, and a rare Samuel Maverick engraving “The Landing of Lafayette,” the artwork that served as the basis for the iconic image.
The Dic and Donnie Catzen Collection of Americana features early 19th century items. The Catzens, of Stevenson, Maryland, collected Americana for decades and were well-known as proprietors of Englemeade House. Their collection includes a Kingston, Massachusetts Queen Anne walnut high chest, ca. 1765, estimate $10/15,000, a quantity of Delft, to include a large Delft portrait, tulip, and Adam and Eve chargers, a polychrome bowl, and Georgian silver. The Adam and Eve charger is the cover lot for the printed catalog for this auction (order online at www.pookandpook.com).
There are many fine silver lots, including a Tiffany seven-piece sterling tea and coffee service, estimate $6/10,000, and several lots of Georg Jensen sterling silver: flatware service in the Cactus pattern, estimate $7/9,000, a sterling silver pitcher, by Henning Koppel, estimate $5/7,000, and a scarce Francis Richardson Jr., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania silver porringer.
The Fine Art category is very strong, offering a major collection of 20th c. American sculpture. Works include Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s 1926 large bronze fountain Crest of the Wave, estimated at $200/300,000, and Malvina Hoffman’s large bronze fountain, Boy with Panther Cub, ca. 1915, estimated at $40/60,000. A unique Elie Nadelman bronze, titled Man’s Head, ca. 1906-1907, is estimated at $40/60,000. Two bronzes by Wiliam Zorach include Pair of Pumas, ca. 1950, estimate $20/30,000, and Black Cat. Two posthumous bronze castings by Paul Howard Manship include his iconic The Moods of Time: Morning, Day, Evening, and Night, cast ca. 1992, estimate $15/25,000, and an enormously engaging Tortoise. British works include Dame Elisabeth Frink’s Bird (With an Attitude), estimate $12/18,000, Edward Paolozzi’s Newton, After Blake, estimate $12/18,000, and a whole barnyard menagerie by Terence Coventry.
Paintings include early American works, led by Charles Wilson Peale’s 1772 portrait of Sarah Benezet Bartow, estimate $10/15,000. A portrait of Mrs Tobin, attributed to John Singleton Copley, is estimated at $4/6,000. Also of note is the lively family portrait Caleb Cresson’s Children, 1824, by Bass Otis. Works of a later date include Cecilia Beaux, Stanley Arthurs, Christopher Willett, Philip Jamison, Eric Sloane, and three members of the Gruppe family of painters.
Modern works on paper include Andy Warhol’s Mickey Mouse (from Myths) screenprint in colors with diamond dust, estimate $80/120,000, and a pen and ink colored drawing by Damien Hirst, estimate $10/20,000.
Anchoring this massive sale is a massive limestone fireplace mantel, early 19th c., inscribed Liberty, estimate $5/10,000.
Phone, absentee, live, and internet bidding are all available for this auction. Online bidding will be available on Bidsquare and Invaluable. To learn more about the auction, please visit Pook & Pook’s website at www.pookandpook.com or call (610) 269-4040.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Paul Howard Manship (American, 1885 – 1966) created four bronze fountains The Moods of Time: Morning, Day, Evening, and Night for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The sculptures were hour markers on a large sundial, allegorical figures representing the time of day. They were located in a reflecting pool in front of companion work Time & Fates of Man, in the Fair’s futuristic exhibition The Worlds of Tomorrow. The scale was monumental, the sundial pointer stood eighty feet. An enormous perisphere loomed in the background.
At the time, Paul Manship was the most celebrated sculptor in America. As a student at the American Academy in Rome from 1909 until 1912, he became interested in archaic art and in portraying classical subjects. His simplification of line and detail was welcomed as a movement away from the artistic burdens of Beaux-Arts classical realism. His classically-based figural sculpture appealed to both modernists and conservatives, and became the aesthetic standard for public art, a precursor to Art Deco. His famous statue Prometheus Bringing Fire From Heaven soars above the skating rink in Rockefeller Center.
For Manship, the Moods of Time “particularize man’s earthly concept of time in relationship to the movement of the sun.” The figures soar and speed across the sky as time passes. Morning stretches and yawns as a rooster heralds the dawn and small figure pull back his covers. He briefly struggles against awakening. Day heroically races across the vault of the sky, arms outstretched and carrying the precious sun, the horses of Apollo coursing at his feet. Everything is about soaring motion. Evening is tumbled into sleep and dreams, gently lulled to sleep by feathery-winged owls. Night is the most free, in her dreams she soars through the heavens with flying figures and a selenite moon.
The World’s Fair sculptures were cast in plaster staff, and destroyed later, but Manship cast smaller bronze versions, and kept a sundial exhibit in his own garden. In this way, he made solid and permanent a vanished moment that itself illustrated the idea of constant flux.
After Paul Manship passed away, his son John found in the pocket of his dressing gown a scrap of paper on which was written his key of life:
The primary impulse in the Arts is to give permanence to the fleeting moment, to bid it stay, because we cannot bear to lose it.
The Moods of Time were recast in a limited edition of 12 by the Bedi-Makky Foundry, circa 1992. Pook & Pook is delighted to include The Moods of Time: Morning, Day, Evening, and Night, numbered 5/12, in our September 30th/ October 1st Americana and International sale.
Also featured is an enormously engaging 50-inch long bronze tortoise by the same artist. The tortoise was modeled in 1916, but was not cast in Manship’s lifetime. According to Eric Baumgartner of Hirschl & Adler, the artist’s son, John Manship, discovered the plaster model at the Roman Bronze Works some years later. In 1998-1999 a limited edition of twelve was issued, of which our Tortoise is numbered 5/12. Paul Howard’s most famous tortoises adorn the Rainey Gates at the Bronx Zoo.
By: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Reynolds, Rebecca, “The Origins of the Tortoise,” Cape Ann Museum Perspectives, Winter 2016.
Rather, Susan, “Archaism, Modernism, and the Art of Paul Manship,” University of Texas Press, 1993.
Tobias Hirte’s life may have spanned 1748-1833, but he was a man far ahead of his time. In our Photography, Prints, and Ephemera auction on August 18th, Pook & Pook will offer an important and exceedingly rare document demonstrating the contribution of Tobias Hirte to American culture.
Hirte’s parents were wed in a mass ceremony by Count Zinzendorf in the Moravian community Herrnhaag on Zinzendorf’s estate in Saxony. The Moravians heeded the charter of William Penn’s colony and immigrated for religious freedom. In 1771 in the Moravian community of Lititz, Pennsylvania, Tobias Hirte was an assistant schoolmaster and orchestra violinist, living in bachelors’ residence the Brother’s House. Considered either willful and wayward, or ebullient and irrepressible, his antics feature heavily in the community’s records. His life changed in 1777, when General Washington ordered the quartering of 250 sick and wounded soldiers in Lititz after the Battle of Brandywine. The Brother’s House was requisitioned to serve as a hospital, and into the religious community came the influence of the outside world. Tobias Hirte was disciplined in January 1778 for purchasing a flintlock gun for hunting game: “There is no reason why Tobias Hirte should have bought a gun; indeed, on the contrary, it is an unseemliness! What use has a schoolmaster for a gun?” By May, Hirte was in hot water again. To boost morale amongst the convalescents, he organized parties featuring music and merrymaking in an area called the Big Spring. The carousing went late into the night. An exasperated Community asked the head doctor, Dr Allison, “for the love of us, to absent himself from it.” Tobias Hirte was to be “summoned to appear before the brethren of the conference and told not to dare in the future to begin such a thing on our land – for he is given to sudden ideas of such a kind – especially not without permission; and secondly to leave the place of the spring as it now is and do nothing more to it.” During the same eventful time period, another hospital physician, Dr William Brown, was working on his publication “Pharmacopoeia Simpliciorum & Efficaciorum..,” and it is likely that the inquisitive Brother Hirte learned European herbal traditions.
After the Revolution, Hirte set up as an itinerant apothecary, spending half the year in Philadelphia, and half the year traveling, either to his “county seat” orchard in Lebanon, purchased in 1792, or north of the Blue Mountains, visiting his friends the Seneca chiefs Cornplanter and Red Jacket. Although it is unclear exactly when Tobias began exploring the Seneca’s knowledge of medicinal plants, whether as Moravian missionary or apothecary, he now became famous for it. He began bottling and selling a liquid the Seneca skimmed from French Creek as a remedy. Advertised in a 1792 broadside (held by the Library Company of Philadelphia) “Indianisch-French-Crieck-Seneca-Spring-Oel,” was actually petroleum, seeping into the creek from underground. It became a popular medicine. He also advertised the popular “Dr. Van Swieten’s pills”, giving his address “at Mr. Conrad Gerhard’s no. 118 North Second Street the third door above the corner of Race Street – Philadelphia.” Hirte did not just sell snake oil. During the dangerous 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic, he ministered to the afflicted, and the city loved him back. From Ritter:
“Liberty and independence was his motto; and when mounted on his sorrel mare, with saddle bags at each side, and a large umbrella, with a handle of unusual length, on the pommel of his saddle, he bestrode the pinnacle of his glory; and the summer season, from early spring, opened the highway to this enjoyment… Although vending his compounds as he passed the route of his search, his principle object, for many years, was a visit to the Indians – Seneca, and several other tribes – with whom he was on the most sociable of terms and whose chiefs always called on him, at his hermitage in Philadelphia, when they came.”
“Here, in a room about ten by fifteen feet, sat this veteran in nostrums, picturesque in the adornment of his walls with the remains of a music store, fiddles, flutes, French horns, and the like; whilst below, in one corner, stood an old-timed spinet, steadied to the floor by a fifty-six pound weight on its lid or top, in range of which sat the “lord of his survey,” at a table either redolent of roast goose, apple-sauce, &c.; or a mass of pill-stuff, or other medicament, in preparation of a summer’s trip; whilst behind him sat a boy, bottling or boxing curatives for all the ills of human inheritance, spurred to speed by the promise of a feast of coffee and sugar-cake at the end of the week. In front stood a large and very grand – as we thought in those days – mantle clock; but, a little beyond, another, of more importance and more interest. This was a musical clock- a great curiosity; whose Swiss peasantry, in a recess over the dial, took an hourly turn in a cosy dance, to the jungle of a most fascinating set of well-tuned bells, gazed and wondered at by the Schuankfelders, who supplied him regularly on the evenings of Tuesday and Friday, with cream, butter, and Dutch cheese; the latter always most popular for its offensive odor.
He was a bachelor to all intents and purposes, and his apartment a stranger to whisk or water. His habits were unique. He prepared and ate his breakfast of toast and coffee, at about 10 A.M.; lunched on tea and toast, or plain bread and butter and Dutch cheese, at 2 P.M.; but dined sumptuously on roast pig (which he called “spanferkle”) or roast goose, with no small amount of potatoes, apples, cold-slaw, bread and butter, &c., settled with several glasses of good Madeira, at about 11 o’clock at night, and then a pipe; and then, despite homoeopathy, if all within was of doubtful temperament, a goodly number of Von Swieten’s pills – a composition principally of aloes – were sent to check rebellion. Yet he killed the time of near one hundred years.”
It is little wonder that Rudyard Kipling, discovering this wonderful description during an 1889 trip to Philadelphia, would pounce on it for his tales “Brother Square-Toes,” and “A Priest in Spite of Himself.” Kipling’s adaptation is priceless: “We walked into a dirty little room of flutes and fiddles and a fat man fiddling by the window, in a smell of cheese and medicines fit to knock you down. I was knocked down too, for the fat man jumped up and hit me a smack in the face. I fell against an old spinet covered with pill-boxes, and the pills rolled about the floor. The Indian never moved an eyelid.”
Later in life, an 1830 census has Tobias Hirte living as a hermit in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in his orchard, which was noted for its variety of plants.
Outside of Lititz and Kipling scholarship, Tobias Hirte has largely been forgotten by history. He merits wider acclaim. He was an extraordinary person in an extraordinary place, at an extraordinary time, surrounded by a host of important historical figures. Hirte was a nonconformist, yet influenced by his times. His story contains many elements that shaped early America. Hirte was free-thinking, free-ranging, free enterprising, and, most forgotten, demanded freedom for all, the abolition of slavery.
Pook & Pook Inc. is honored to offer one of only three known copies in existence of “Sclaven-Handel. Die Menschlichkeit beleidiget.” (Slave trade. An insult to humanity.) Tobias Hirte’s abolitionist broadside, published in 1794 in Philadelphia. “Sclaven-Handel” is adapted from the 1793 British broadside “Remarks on the Methods of Procuring Slaves,” which was exerpted from the 1791 British report “An Abstract of Evidence Delivered before a Select Committee of the House of Commons,” oral testimony given before Parliament by abolitionists respecting the African slave trade. Tobias Hirte issued his own adaptation in German, ostensibly at his own expense. It was printed by Samuel Saur, of the famous Saur family of printers, in Philadelphia, and illustrated, most likely, by Alexander Anderson (1775-1870) with woodblocks based on the 1793 originals. This was the first appearance of these iconic images in America. Horrifying in nature, the twelve illustrations show the abuses and mistreatment of slaves. The illustrations are one of three sets of 18th century images that were reproduced countless times and were to influence abolitionist propaganda for the next fifty years. They are considered equal in importance to the famous 1789 cross-section of the slave ship Brooks, showing how space was maximized in the hold, and the famous 1787 figure of a slave titled “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” The power of these images cannot be underestimated. They at once convey the apparent victory of evil, and the shame of humanity.
Having fled religious persecution and serfdom, many having endured indentured servitude, German immigrant groups made significant contributions to the anti-slavery movement in America. In 1688, the Quakers of Germantown issued the very first anti-slavery petition in the Colonies. The Moravian church had fanned out across the New World to minister not only to German immigrants and convert Native Americans, but also to bring the support of their God to enslaved Africans. Eccentric as Tobias Hirte’s behavior was, and as much as he exasperated and irritated the Moravians, he was still after all, a Brother. A man of his time, and ahead of his time. Or, as Kipling put it, “A Priest in Spite of Himself.”
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
Lapansky, Emma Jones, “Graphic Discord: Abolitionist and Antiabolitionist Images,” from the Abolitionist Sisterhood, 2018, edited by Jean Fagan Yellin and John C Van Horne.
Martin, Richard, “Toby Hirte: Liberty and Independence,” from the Church Square Journal, Fall 2011.
Lititz Public Library, “Tobias Hirte, Early Lititz Character Repeatedly Aroused Ire of Community,” https://lititzlibrary.org
Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, German illustrated herbal of Tobias Hirte acquisition, May 14, 2020
Ritter, Abraham, History of the Moravian Church in Philadelphia, 1857, pp. 248-250.
Kipling, Rudyard, “Brother Square Toes,” p. 163, and “A Priest In Spite of Himself.”
Beck, Herbert Huebner, “Lititz as an Early Musical Centre,” Lancaster Historical Society, 1915.
Weygandt, Ann M., “A Study of Kipling’s Use of Historical Material in Brother Square-Toes and A Priest In Spite of Himself, University of Delaware, 1954.
Knight, Glenn B., “Tobias Hirte,” The Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, Vol. 105, No. 3, Fall 2003.
Wolf, Edwin, “Exhibition of Germantown and the Germans,” 1983
Library of Congress, “The Call of Tolerance,” https://www.loc.gov/
On August 19th, 2021, Pook & Pook presents The Collection of Barbara A. & Fred Johnson, of Rockford, Illinois. Owners of Barbara A. Johnson Antiques, the couple spent decades traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe in search of antiques, specializing in Swedish and Scandinavian folk art and furniture. Their personal collection features a colorful polychrome painted mixture of American furniture from Southeastern Pennsylvania and many very special pieces of 18th and 19th century Swedish furniture.
Highlighting the sale are two iconic Swedish clocks. Lot 1018 is a traditional 19th century Mora clock with a signed dial and a rococo shaped, grain-painted case. Lot 1012 is another 19th century Mora clock with signed dial. This clock case is rectilinear, its clean lines enhanced by a panel of carved detailing and pale blue paint. The works are from family workshops in the clock making center of Mora, in Dalarna, Sweden, and the cases likely by local carpenters nearer the purchaser’s home.
Like a pair of sisters in starched cornettes, two Swedish painted pine cupboards exemplify period style. Lot 1044, dated 1796, has two paneled doors above a single door with canted corners. Every panel is festooned with original paint decoration of stylized flowers, the architectural pediment with flower chains. Lot 1016 is a grain-painted cupboard constructed with two paneled doors over two lower, the panels decorated with vases of stylized flowers. The pediment bears flower chains and a floral crest dated 1831.
Two 18th/19th century Swedish sofa beds were early space savers, serving as bench seats in the daytime and pulling out into beds at night. Lot 1034 retains its original salmon surface, the initials of its owner, and the date 1876, while an earlier example, lot 1040, retains traces of an old blue surface.
Offering many desirable Swedish features are lots 1024 and 1028, a painted pine table and armchair. The small table has graceful rococo curves and retains an old powder blue finish. The armchair has out swept arms, tapered legs, and an old blue surface with red accents.
No fewer than eight 18th and 19th century Swedish and Scandinavian hanging cupboards brighten the collection with a burst of folkloric floral paint decoration. The grouping of shapes is sculptural in fashion with a mixture of gracefully curved pediments, flat and straight lines, and carved details.
Smaller objects include desirable 18th century Scandinavian mangle boards, to include a herd of Swedish horses and a Norwegian lion. There are four lots of iron-bound Swedish lock boxes, numerous wooden lanterns, painted scutching knives, and kitchen woodenware.
Americana blends beautifully with the Swedish and Scandinavian décor. Lot 1159, a painted pine turkey breast corner cupboard, late 18th century, is dry scraped to an old blue surface, and lot 1367, a 19th century Pennsylvania painted pine drysink with an old red surface.
There is also a Great Lakes regional presence in the collection. There are paintings, decoys, wood carvings, and carved and painted folk art furniture by Lou Schifferl, a noted Wisconsin artist represented by Barbara. As described by daughter Ginny Eames, suspended in air from beams in their home’s lofty ceiling flew a magical flock geese, swans, ducks, and all manner of birds, many carved by Schifferl.
The item that connects all elements of the far-ranging Johnson Collection, providing a narrative for the whole, is lot 1083, a Swedish immigrant trunk. A pine trunk, strapped in iron, retaining its original blue ground and floral paint decoration, is inscribed with the names of its owners and the date 1866. This piece, its simplicity, solidity, and folk art decoration, speaks volumes about its immigrant owners and the determination, strength, and hope that helped build our nation.
The auction begins at 9AM on Thursday, August 19th, 2021. All bidding for this auction is online on Bidsquare and Invaluable. The gallery exhibition will run from 10AM to 4PM on Monday, August 16th and Tuesday, August 17th. For more information on this collection, please go to www.pookandpook.com or call (610) 269-4040.
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
What drew me to this pick of the week was the amazing patriotic gessoed frame. Lot 2368 in our July 28th sale, the frame is loaded with stars, shields, crossed cannons, and topped with a spread wing eagle crest. It is a wonderfully uplifting thing to behold. Then the lithograph caught my attention. One of many adaptations of Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 portrait of George Washington, this portrait had been altered to show Washington in Masonic regalia, with his hand on a book. Which got me to thinking…
What if George Washington, Father of Our Country, passed along secret information to a select few people? A secret of a fabled treasure of immense value, a universal truth? The result might be a Dan Brown mystery, a cult classic movie, or, believe it or not…, the actual words of George Washington.
Evolving from medieval stonemason guilds, and purportedly preserving the sacred geometry of Solomon’s Temple, Freemasonry attracted not only the builders of cathedrals, but also other members of the sciences and eventually members of the European elite. In 1717, the first Grand Lodge was founded in England, followed in 1730 by a lodge in Philadelphia, of which Benjamin Franklin was a founding member. Membership was secret, as were rites and rituals, because, emerging out of the radical thought movements of the Reformation and Enlightenment, Masonic principles of religious toleration and liberty were in conflict with the religious and political orders of the Old World. In America, the ideals of the enlightened philosophical and social movements sweeping Europe were held in common. Freemasonry was only a small part of this current, but an influential one. Thirteen of the thirty-nine signers of the Constitution were members of the Masons. In America, Ben Franklin could accurately say “Their grand secret is, that they have no secret at all.”
On August 4th, 1753, young George Washington became a Master Mason. In 1788, after becoming the first United States President, he was elevated to the first Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22. In 1790, President George Washington revealed one of Freemasonry’s most radical ideas- to the congregation of a Newport, Rhode Island synagogue: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens…” Washington’s famous letter is the inheritance of those radical thought movements, a principle of which was the search for religious truth wherever it existed. A gift infinitely more valuable than a roomful of treasure.
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence
“George Washington as a Freemason | Graphic Arts.” Princeton University, The Trustees of Princeton University, 10 Sept. 2019, graphicarts.princeton.edu/2019/09/10/washington-as-a-freemason/.
Tabbert, Mark. “Freemasonry.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/freemasonry/.
Horowitz, Mitch. “Masons and the Making of America | Op-Ed | US News.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 14 Sept. 2009, www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2009/09/14/masons-and-the-making-of-america.
Historians believe the Mayflower arrived in 1620 with a number of chickens and probably some pigs, followed by cattle on the Anne in 1624. Almost every farm animal in North America today was brought by Europeans from their homelands: cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, mules, and horses. European dogs and cats also made the trip. Dogs were valued for herding, hunting, and companionship. Cats were important vermin control. The agrarian lifestyle of Colonial America revolved around animals and crops, and much of the folk art that emerged was made by farm families of their own animals. Deer and squirrel objects remind us that, for a while, they too enjoyed popularity as domestic pets. As Americans began migrating to urban areas in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, they kept their animals around them in the form of objects. Today, just as long ago, animal objects appeal to us on an emotional level that is beyond beauty or curiosity.
Among the 1,482 lots in our July 28th and 29th auction is a whole parade of these animals. The lots range from those created by professional artists and craftsmen to the self-taught. Whether primitive or polished, every animal object possesses a sense of character and vitality. The folk art animals are a particularly comforting, familiar presence, beatific in their innocence. Some objects serve a functional purpose, such as tiny sterling match safes, canware covered dishes, doorstops, weathervanes, and decoys. Other objects are utilitarian, such as paint-decorated pottery and furniture. There are needlework crafts and Hattie Brunner pincushions. The art category features farmyard paintings by Jeanne Davies and Audubon prints. Toys abound: teddy bears, stick leg sheep, and rabbits, to name a few. The largest category is domestic ornament, encompassing everything from Lalique birds to a Paul Tyson bird tree, a litter of sewer tile puppies, a parliament of owls, a convocation of eagles, a pride of lions, and a bevy of farm animals, to include horses, chickens, and a plethora of pigs.
When asked what so compels people to collect animal objects, auctioneer and resident philosopher Jamie Shearer responds with the maxim, “People just love animals.” Be forewarned, resistance to bidding in this auction is futile; collecting Animalia is in our DNA.
by: Cynthia Beech Lawrence