The American Art Fair

October 9 - 19, 2020 Back

     JO DAVIDSON (1883-1952): In 1905 Davidson received his first commission for a small figure, David, the proceeds of which allowed the young artist, just 22 years old, to make his first trip to Paris the following year. There he fell under the spell of Auguste Rodin, whose treatment of the figure Davidson found to be a revelation. Following Rodin’s approach, Davidson sought to model the figure as if it were moving through space and to evoke strong emotion, as in Eve

Again in Paris in 1923, Davidson completed one of his most extraordinary portraits, Gertrude Stein. Instead of a typical portrait head, Davidson modeled Stein as a seated figure celebrating her bulk and transforming her into an icon. When the portrait was first exhibited in New York in a one-man show at Fearon Galleries, Henry McBride, writing in the New York Herald called it “a sort of bulky Sybil brooding over the miseries of the world.” Davidson completed a bust in marble and bronze and carved an over-life-size head in Burgundy limestone. This plaster, later patinated by Davidson to mimic bronze, was used by the artist to cast reductions of the portrait in bronze.

     WILLIAM HUNT DIEDERICH (1884-1953): The son of a Prussian cavalry officer Diederich spent his early years living on an estate where his father bred horses. He came to the United States in 1900 and took classes at the Boston Art School from which, having little interest in formal education, he soon traveled west to work as a cowboy. These early experiences influenced his emphasis on animal subjects and motifs. Diederich's animals possess a graceful dynamism and fluidity that reflect his respect and admiration for creatures with which he interacted frequently throughout his life. He turned to motifs of animals fighting, playing, or being hunted, evidenced in both the graceful Fighting Cocks Firescren and the impressively large Hunting Scene Floor Lamp.

     ABASTENIA SAINT LEGERE EBERLE (1878-1942): While she was still a student, Eberle became intrigued by the intense life she discovered in the ethnic neighborhoods of the Lower East Side. The blocks of crowded, dilapidated tenements housed poor Italian, Irish, and Jewish immigrants who excited her artistic imagination. In 1912 she translated the spirit of the neighborhood into Bath Hours. In Donald Wilhelm's article, “Babies in Bronze, The Life-Work of Miss Abastenia Eberle,” he describes Bath Hours not by name but by sentiment "...the baby at it's bath, which, on the East Side is hardly ever a real ‘up-town‘ baby bath, but usually a sponge and basin of water instead.”

In the 1913 Armory Show in New York and the following year at the Spring Salon, Eberle showed Girls on Beach (also titled Coney Island). Consisting of three figures, the group was modeled both as a unified work on a single base and as individual figures including Sea Treasures. An example of Eberle’s most lyrical style, this figure portrays the unselfconscious pose of an adolescent girl engaged in her private seaside pleasure.

     CECIL de BLAQUIERE HOWARD (1888-1956): A Canadian-born American citizen, Howard would spend most of his life and career in Paris, the earliest years in Montparnasse. His favorite model, Lucy Krohg, was married to the Norwegian painter Per Krohg while carrying on a long and tempestuous relationship with the painter Jules Pascin. Krohg posed for Howard many times including for a sculpture exhibited at the International Exposition of Modern Art (The Armory Show), New York, 1913. Modeled c.1920, Lucy Krohg was carved for an American art patron in 1937. The Dance, inspired by the energetic style of the times, was most likely posed for by Krohg as well. Among their other talents, Lucy and Per were professional touring dancers while as a young man Howard also taught Tango in Paris.

     ATTILIO PICCIRILLI (1866-1945): Six Piccirilli brothers, all sculptors and all trained in Massa, Italy by their father, immigrated to America in the late 1880s. Attillio oversaw and ultimately took over the business after his father died, increasing the profile of the studio to become the most respected firm of marble carvers in America. As a solo artist, Attilio was the most prolific of the six brothers and received the most recognition. Young Faun, designed in 1898, was awarded the silver medal at the South Carolina Interstate Exposition in 1902. At least two versions of Young Faun were made; the first marble was probably around 56 inches high and is known today only from photographs. Two examples of this version were known to have been produced, one currently un-located, the second which belonged to Attilio, was destroyed in a fire in 1920. He carved this example in 1922 to replace the example that was lost.

Attilio was commissioned to create several architectural embellishments and over-door bas-reliefs for the Palazzo d'Italia and other buildings at New York’s Rockefeller Center. One bas-relief, Advance Forever Eternal Youth depicted a muscular youth thrusting a spade into the earth. Flanking the figure are lateral inscriptions: Arte E Lavoro  (Art is Labor) and Lavoro E Arte (Labor is Art). The heroic-size bas relief was cast in 45 Pyrex glass blocks by Corning Glass Works and installed in 1935. Because the Italian inscriptions were eventually utilized to promote Fascism by Mussolini, the glass panel was boarded up during World War II, eventually removed and later lost. Piccirilli's second glass block bas-relief, Youth Leading Industry, remains in place over the Fifth Avenue entrance to the International Building North. Eternal Youth is a unique bronze maquette which, along with preliminary drawings (currently unlocated), was produced as part of the design presentation for the commission.

     BESSIE POTTER VONNOH (1872-1955): Vonnoh had her first experience with modeling in public school, finding herself “enchanted” by the feel of clay, and at the age of fourteen she decided to become a sculptor. By 1891, when she was nineteen, she was steadily exhibiting and selling her work in Chicago and, the following year, was hired as one of Lorado Taft’s assistants to work on the sculptural decoration for the World’s Columbian Exposition, which opened in 1893.

Vonnoh initially modeled Good Night in terra cotta in 1909 then, in the same year, remodeled the figure in clay for the purpose of casting an edition in bronze. For the earliest exhibitions of the model the title Good Night was used for the terra cotta and On The Sandman's Trail for the bronze. As early as 1919 or 1920 however the titles seem to have become interchangeable. Ultimately Good Night (On The Sandman's Trail) became Vonnoh's most popular model with approximately 56 examples cast.

Springtime Of Life was first modeled as a life-size garden fountain (location unknown) in 1924-25, and won the prize in 1928 for best single figure at the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition of the Philadelphia Art Alliance. This reduction is piped as a fountain but works equally well indoors.