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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Eliot Candee Clark [1883-1980]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

CLARK, Eliot Candee (1883–1980)

Country Road

oil on panel / 8.75 inches by 10.5 inches

ca1930

Son of landscape painter Walter Clark and Jennifer Woodruff Clark, a student of psychic phenomena, Eliot Clark was a precocious artist who became a landscape painter in the late American Impressionist style.  Moving to Albemarle, Virginia in 1932, he was one of the few Impressionist* artists of the Southern states.  Likely this was a result of his association with James Whistler and his painting in 1900 at Gloucester, Massachusetts with John Twachtman, a family friend.  Showing his obvious interest in Impressionism, he wrote a book about its exponents including Twachtman, Theodore Robinson, Childe Hassam, Julian Weir, and Robert Vonnoh.

The lesser known Clark is in the good company of early giants in the American Impressionist style, John Henry Twachtman and Childe Hassam — though artists of that calibre are collected by major urban institutions.

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Emil Pottner [1872-1942]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

POTTNER, Emil (1872-1942)

Farmyard Fowl

color woodcut on paper / 4.5 inches by 5.5 inches (image) / #37 of 200

undated

Swimming Ducks

color woodcut on paper / 6.75 inches by 11.5 inches (image) / unspecified edition

undated

Austrian Emil Pottner was born in Salzburg but trained as an artist in Munich and spent most of his shortened life in greater Berlin. From a likeside studio near Potsdam, Pottner created majolica ceramics and wrote self-illustrated books; animals were the predominant subject of his drawings and prints. But the rise of Fascism forced him to sell his property in 1938. Four years later he was deported to Theresienstadt, from there on September 26 to Treblinka, and finally to Maly Trestinez near Minsk for extermination. He was last seen on 28 September 1942. These two poignant works probably date from the ‘teens and twenties.

“Farmyard Fowl” and “Swimming Ducks” are on extended loan to the Community Collection from Temple Emanu-El.

Alfred Ward [born ca1847]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

WARD, Alfred (flourished 1873-1927)

“Mr Bedwell” / Portrait of Francis Benjamin Bedwell

gouache on panel / 4.3 inches by 3.1 inches

1918

“Mrs Bedwell” / Portrait of Sarah Woodyear Percival Bedwell

gouache on panel / 4.3 inches by 3.1 inches

1918

The provenance of these two delightful Georgian miniatures is complex to the point of obfuscation. The subjects are of the related Bedwell and Percival families, with trading connections in St Kitts, West Indies. Indeed, Mrs Bedwell was born on the island. Oral tradition in the Tennant family holds that the Percivals used the services of Gaudeamus Tennant and that the families may have been related by marriage; no evidence supporting such a connection has been found. The portraits themselves, however, date from a much later period—1918—than the lives of Mr and Mrs Bedwell:

  • Francis Benjamin BEDWELL (1776-1835)
  • Sarah Woodyear Percival BEDWELL (1779-1835)

She died 23 July and he on 31 October of the same year.

These were painted by artist Alfred Ward from photographs of earlier drawings (attested by labels on the reverse). Ward lived and worked in London and is known to have exhibited at the Royal Academy, as well as Grosvenor Gallery between 1873 and 1915. He was also a member of the Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street and showed paintings there until 1927. Martha Tennant purchased these works, intended as a birthday gift which her husband Augustus James Tennant never received. They were given in 2018 as a memorial on the centennial of his death.

 

Medical Arts (again)

Russell Guerne Delappe designed the 1938 Stanislaus County Hall of Records in Modesto, California in a robust Moderne style. It was a WPA project, a make-work project intended to put American to work and therefore relatively low tech so as to tap the largest pool of workers many of whom were unskilled in the construction arts. I don’t know whether Agincourt’s Medial Arts building would have qualified as a WAP/PWA project but it motivation could have been similarly driven. In any event, the Modesto building inspired me to immerse myself in the design vocabulary of the 1930s which such a project might have been built.

You don’t even have to squint to see the Bauhaus awareness, if not actual influence, exhibited here. In fact, one or two photos of the building [it was photographed often but not terribly well] have been photo-shopped, with the word “BAUHAUS” running up its stair tower. So I’m certainly not the first to make that observation.

Though it was built somewhat later, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1956 hybrid residential-office tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma also seems appropriate for inspiration. And, of course, it too was conceived at the beginning of the Great Depression as another project altogether: a housing complex on the south end of Manhattan Island called “St Mark’s-in-the-Bowery”, but unbuilt then and re-purposed several times prior to its appearance in Oklahoma. It comes to mind because the Modesto building was executed without sun control on all that glass, an issue which was resolved years later with genuinely awful louvers. Wright, on the other hand, dealt with sun in a louvered sort of way, but designed them according to the kind of light that would fall on them, depending on orientation and time of day. You can see vertical louvers on the left (here in the color image) and horizontal barely showing on the right. What mongrel might emerge from the fusion of these two buildings?

[#1309; I’m behind schedule]

John Beddowes

John Beddowes, in his Civil War uniform. Agincourt’s first war casualty.

Iowans played no small part in the Civil War. The state provided over 76,000 troops, of which 13,000 died. Iowa troops included 48 infantry regiments, 8 cavalry regiments, 4 artillery regiments, and one unassigned volunteer regiment. Somewhere among those hallowed dead must be the name of John Beddowes, son of Amos and Sissy. We believe this tintype is his image taken on the eve of battle. As Agincourt’s first casualty, he received a hero’s burial at The Shades, but since the family had no other surviving members (John’s sister Mary was a casualty of typhoid many years before), his story has faded from public memory. I hope some day soon to retrieve that story and restore his place of honor in the Agincourt narrative.