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VERY VICTORIAN BOOKENDS

Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain from 1837 to 1901.   England was arguably the most successful country in the western world during her reign, and Americans adopted many of England’s values for their own.  We know these values today as Victorian.  They were prominent here during Victoria’s reign and gradually faded as  the twentieth century progressed.

Many Americans still admire Victorian fashions  today and incorporate them into their house decor. We can learn some of these English fashions from American bookends produced early in the twentieth century.  Foundries in the United States produced Victorian subjects on bookends for display in fashionable American homes.

Altar of Love. Gray metal.  Height 5.5 inches.  Marked The Altar of Love and Pompeian Bronze. circa 1920.

The bookends entitled The Altar of Love  are completely devoted to illustrating Victorian values.  The title alone illustrates English devotion to the romantic and sentimental ideal of  enduring marriage as exemplified by the Royal marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  We see the married couple embracing.  Their child, symbolizing reverence for children,  is at their feet.  A putto, popular in Victorian England, is blowing a trumpet to them.  Putti are ambiguous in their usage, but here probably represent peace and prosperity. In keeping with the Victorian penchant for Greek and Roman revival, the sacred flame of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, is shown, and it will support the stability of the marriage.  The family dog is not forgotten, reminding us of the Victorian attachment to animals.

Boy and Snail. Electroform bronze.  Height 8 inches.  Marked Ghiglia (artist).  Foundry: Attributed to Paul Mori.  circa 1910. Very rare bookends.

Children were idolized in Victorian England and they appear frequently on American bookends from this period.   This pair features a charming nude little boy who would appeal to every Victorian.  There is a giant snail at his feet, which matches the Victorian fascination with rare, bizarre creatures.

Dante and Beatrix: Height 7 inches. Electroformed bronze. Marked with the Armor Bronze shopmark. circa 1920.

The story of Dante and Beatrice was very popular during the Victorian era. Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy was widely read during Victorian times.  Dante loved Beatrice all of his life although he never had a physical relationship with her.  This was “pure love” for Victorians and superior to love with physical aspects.  At least it was superior for the English Bourgeoisie and this seems allied to their prudish behavior. We do not know if  the Aristocrats were concerned with pure love or with prudish behavior.  For example, adultery and mistresses were commonplace for them. American Victorians were noted to be prudes.  In any event,  Dante or Dante and Beatrice bookends were very fashionable here in the United States.  They were issued in a variety of poses by several different foundries, and we frequently find them today. We recounted the Dante and Beatrice story in both Bookend Revue and Bookends: Objects of Art and Fashion.  Here is a link to an updated version of the story on a blog devoted to Dan Brown’s novel, INFERNO.  

 

 
 

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FEMALE PHARAOH BOOKENDS: HATSHEPSUT

Hatshepsut Bookends: Material electroform bronze, Height 10.25 inches, weight 4 lbs. each.  circa 1925, Attributed to Paul Mori &Sons foundry.  Part of the Egyptian revival following the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1923.

Hatshepsut (1508-1458 BCE)  was born a princess in the Egyptian royal line and became the regent for the the infant who would become the next king,  Although only a regent , she assumed the title and the trappings of a king with the additional title of Pharaoh.  She then ruled Egypt from 1473 to 1458  BCE, a rare woman to achieve that position in 3000 years of Egyptian history.

Hatshepsut proved to be a successful and important ruler as she restored many monuments and restored trade with western Asia, with Punt, and with the Aegean Islands.  No other female king  appeared until Cleopatra (51-30 BCE). 

Statue of Hatshepsut in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. This statue of Hatshepsut was recovered from her mortuary temple.  The resemblance to the bookends helps to identify the bookends, although there was no other female pharoah that could confuse the identity.

A statue in THE MET in New York City is very similar to these bookends.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Egyptian Expeditions in 1926-27 and 1929 excavated bits and pieces of a statue of Hatshepsut near her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri in Thebes.  In 1929 they acquired a fragment that had been excavated and taken to Berlin in 1845. Click here for the link to The Met page  on the Hatshepsut statue.  It is on view at THE MET Fifth Avenue in Gallery 115.

Another bookend depiction of a female pharoah is a bust by Dodge Inc. probably in the 1940s.

Grey metal. Height 6.75 inches.  Inscription: Dodge Inc.  circa mid 1940s.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2018 in Antiquity, Art Deco, Art Styles

 

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MAGNIFICENT CATS: THE LION AND THE TIGER BOOKENDS

Just the type of bookends to hold up your adventure tomes.  Are you a collector of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan”, or Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails”, Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” or Dinesen’s “Out of Africa”?  If so, these are the bookends for you.  Big, beautifully sculpted African Lion and Asian Tiger stealthily menacing as they step from the jungle overgrowth.  

Lion and Tiger: Upright and base – Iron, animals – grey metal. Height 7 inches. Shopmark: Bradley and Hubbard.  Circa 1915.

One bookend shows an African lion stepping forward from a jungle and the other bookend shows an Asian tiger stepping forward from a jungle.The bookends are admirable as sculpture, but perhaps even more admirable because they are massive – 17 pounds per pair.  A photo does not do justice to the power exhibited by these bookends.

Bradley & Hubbard, makers mark.

 
 

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THE PURITAN and THE PILGRIM BOOKENDS

The colonial era  in America (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) does not get much attention nowadays, but there are bookends that remind us of those times.  One pair labeled THE PURITAN is a near reproduction of a commissioned  bronze sculpture of Deacon Samuel Chapin (1595-1675) by the illustrious artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens.. The sculpture was unveiled in Springfield, MA on Thanksgiving Day 1887.  

Puritans, were Calvinist immigrants who came to Massachusetts in the early seventeenth century, and were renowned for their strict spiritual regimen.  The sculptural image of a man dressed in seventeenth century apparel, striding along purposefully and carrying a bible remains a popular conception of a Puritan to this day.  

A National Park Service publication, In Homage to Worthy Ancestors: The Puritan, The Pilgrim, states: 

“Created by sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), the Puritan spoke to a family’s pride in a “worthy ancestor” and became an emblem of the city of Springfield, and of the stalwart pioneers who settled Western Massachusetts. The Pilgrim, created later for a committee of city leaders in Philadelphia, was seen as a more general icon of the country’s moral and political strength. For the artist, the demand was so great for this popular figure, that he created reduced versions of the Puritan in bronze for sale to schools, government buildings and individuals.”

In other words, Saint-Gaudens produced two similar sculptures, one is The Puritan, the other is The Pilgrim.  As far as we know the Jennings Brothers bookends, The Puritan shown above,  are based on the Springfield version because the spine of the book does not have “THE BIBLE” emblazoned on it as does the Philadelphia Pilgrim version. 

The Puritan / Pilgrim was a popular and reproduced form that fits in with a colonial-style home decor.  Here is another example by an unknown artist.

The Puritan:  Grey metal, Height 7 inches, There is a light illegible mark within a small circle on the back of each bookend.  First quarter of the twentieth century.

Somewhat similar bookends were produced by Armor Bronze.  Again we have a man in seventeenth century clothing and carrying a bible but under the right arm.  To avoid confusing them with “The Puritan” we  called them “Pilgrim”. However, Gerald P. McBride in “A Collector’s Guide to Cast Metal Bookend (1997)”  called these Armor Bronzes  “Puritan”. 

Pilgrim:  Electroform bronze.  Height 10.5 inches. Circa 1918.  Markings:  Signed by the sculptor Ruhl (John Ruhl, 1873-1940)  Armor Bronze shopmark and label.

In March of 2015 we posted Colonial decor bookends by Chase Inc.  Since that time we have learned that those bookends were made to resemble the hurricane lamps that were used in Colonial times.

 

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Deco Eagle Bookend

Spread Eagle Bookends:  Solid bronze. Height 4 inches. circa 1930

 

The dominant Art Deco motif in nineteen thirties America was streamline, and all manner of objects were given streamlined exteriors to look modern.  To look modern was to look cool in thirties America.  Along side the streamlining, there was a geometric motif, which began earlier, in the twenties.  Objects were made in geometric shapes or covered with geometric figures.

The eagle Bookends shown here are composed of triangles, rectangles and trapezoids, all geometric angled figures.  Very deco. Angled features were called zigzag deco.

Not all geometric objects were were zigzag.  Some were composed of curving geometric figures, like the bookends shown here entitled Rings and Balls, made up in this instance almost entirely of spheres and circular rings.

Copper or brass?   Height 5.25  inches. Inscription:  Shopmark of Chase Inc.   Attributed to Walter Von Nessen.  circa 1936.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Animals, Art Deco, Streamline

 

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Iwo Jima Bookends

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the US Marine Corps. A monument “In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775”.

United State Marine Corps Memorial

The monument, sculpted by Felix W. de Weldon (Navy), depicts the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal of the unposed flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima.

In 1945 American troops were fighting to capture the Pacific island of Iwo JIma.  As the battle progressed, the troops raised American flags over captured Japanese positions. On February 23, 1945, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured an unposed flag raising on Mt Suribachi. A Pulitzer prize photo that became one of the most recognizable war photos of all time and forever linked with the US Marines.

These Iwo Jima bookends depict the photograph in low relief.

Iwo Jima Scene.  Grey metal. Height 6.5 inches. Circa 1970s.  Marked: ALFA Display Co. N.Y.

Follow this link to the National Park Service page that tells the story of the monument and the photo: United States Marine Corps War Memorial.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Art Styles, Mid-Century, Monument

 

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FRANKART Beauty: Semiclassical and Streamlined

WPA/AMERICAN MODERNE STREAMLINED LADIES: Grey metal, Height 5.5 inches.  Inscription: FRANKART INC.  circa 1935.

In nineteen thirties America, streamlining was the most prominent feature of Art Deco fashions.  The American/WPA Moderne art style was a subset of Art Deco.  Here we have bookends showing a bust of a streamlined lady on a Deco geometric, stairstep base with a semi-classical face that belongs to  American/WPA Moderne.  (Compare to the faces in our Post from June 3, 2014, entitled WPA Moderne Bookends.)  The bookends are FRANKART’s contribution to both styles at once.

 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in Art Deco, Streamline

 

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