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Monthly Archives: October 2019

David Walling Humphrey [1872-1950]

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

HUMPHREY, David Walling (1872–1950)

“Faun Serenading Nymph”

color monoprint / 9 inches by 6 7/8 inches

1909

David Walling Humphrey was born in February 28, 1872 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, the fourth child of Benjamin Blodgett and Mary Jane Walling Humphrey. His mother died just 41 days after he was born. Humphrey was educated in Elkhorn public schools in the southeast Wisconsin community.  On November 18,1889 a Warranty Deed (Vol. 102, p 49) was recorded for $1,000 from David to his sister Hattie on a piece of jointly-owned property inherited from their father Benjamin Humphrey. He could then afford to study at the Art Institute of Chicago which was called the ‘Art Mecca of the Middle West’ at that time. As an honor student in Chicago and a serious student of contemporary art, he worked hard to establish himself in the art community. David chose for his subjects, figures, genre (human activities) and nude figures and mythology.

He concentrated on monotypes, a technique that creates a unique original print with each impression. This is a slow, labor-intensive process that produces perfection rather than quantity. Frequently, he went to the countryside and did sketches with pastels, then returned to his studio to create the monotype metal plate. Monotypes were a spontaneous approach developed soon after the etching revival of the late 1870s. Although monotypes are classed with graphic arts, Humphrey’s work was superior in quality and was referred to more often as a painting.

David Humphrey continued to study at the Academie Julian and with J.A.M. Whistler for two years in Paris.

E. A. Alford [active 1890s]

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

ALFORD, E. A. (active 1890s)

The Daily Inter-Ocean

oil on canvas / 18 inches by 22 inches

ca1892

Trompe L’Oeil is a genre in art which attempt to replicate reality; it means “to fool the eye”. Examples can be found from the Renaissance to the present, but this particular example depicts a copy of the Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean for December 1st, 1892, wrapped around red roses. The artist E. A. Alford is unknown and thus far has defied identification through standard on-line sources.

The front page found at newspapers.com for that date is the morning edition and differs somewhat from the page illustrated here. though the price is still Two Cents.

Writing Lives

Willa Cather warns us that “[t]here are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” If that’s true, will the person who had mine please write to say how it all turned out?

Rummaging through a pile of books slumped by my bedside, I found a paperback copy (bought to replace the hardback version I can’t seem to locate) of John Howland Spyker’s Little Lives, a 1979 title that has kept my attention for lo these forty years. It’s one of those chance encounters that I’ve passed along to friends. For a quick orientation, look for it on NeglectedBooks.com or GoodReads. You’ll thank me.

To say that Spyker (pseudonym of Richard Elman) attempts what Edgar Lee Masters had accomplished in Spoon River Anthology sixty years earlier is to diminish each of those works. For me they were instructive, offering lessons that I’m still learning fourteen years into this project.

 

Carton Moore-Park [1877-1956]

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

MOORE-PARK, Carton (1877–1956)

Old Friends and New Fables

1916

Blackie & Sons, Ltd.

British illustration during the Arts & Crafts period took on the character of woodcuts and, along with that, characteristics which can only be called Japanese. Edwin Noble and Carton Moore-Park are only two of a substantial school of designers who particularly applied their talents to children’s books. Old Friends and New Fables pair brief moralizing texts by Alice Talwin Morris with a single charming illustration such as “The Cat and the Puppy” and “The Deceitful Fox”. Coincidentally, the author was herself a talented illustrator and the wife of book designer Talwin Morris.

This book is part of the special collection of illustrated children’s books given in 2012 in memory of Mary-Grace Bernhard.

Stockman Beekman Colt [1863-1937]

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

COLT, Stockman Beekman (1863–1937)

Paying Homage to Architecture

ink drawing on paper / 4.75 inches by 7 inches

ca1880

Colt was born in Paterson, New Jersey. Following study at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts (popular name for the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts) and the requisite European Grand Tour, Colt returned to America and joined the Architectural League of New York in 1889. From 1894 to 1897 he was a partner in the firm of Trowbridge, Colt, and Livingston. From 1897 until his retirement he was in independent architectural practice on Fifth Avenue. It is thought that this drawing dates from his student days in Europe.

Though the drawing is on permanent loan to the collection, it hangs in the former architectural office of Anson Curtiss Tennant, a space which has been the meeting place for Agincourt’s Arts & Crafts movement since 1915. It was a gift in 1912 from A. James Tennant to celebrate the beginning of his son’s architectural practice.

Mariko Yoshioka Nutt [born 1930]

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

NUTT, Mariko (née Yoshioka) (born 1930)

“Drawing Desk I”

oil on canvas / 37 inches by 29 inches

1985

“Drawing Desk II”

oil on canvas / 37 inches by 29 inches

1984

Mariko Yoshioka was born in Osaka, Japan in 1930 and married SFC Walter James Nutt in 1952 during his tour of duty there; she emigrated to the United States shortly after. Following her husband’s retirement from the military, the Nutts settled in suburban St Louis, Missouri by the 1980s, where she exhibited at the Wittenberg Gallery on a regular basis. It was through those exhibitions that her work came to the attention of Maureen and William Bendix, Agincourt’s collectors of Mid-century Modernity.

Ruth Kerkovius [1921-2007]

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

KERKOVIUS, Ruth (1921-2007)

“Page from a Fable”

color lithograph / 13 inches by 10 inches (image) / #4 of 27

1970

Two recent additions bring the number of Kerkovius works to five, only one of them a painting. “Page from a Fable” suggests an adult, rather than juvenile, story being told — something from the mysterious East involving birds rising miraculously from their own ash. If she were inspired by an actual fable or one of the artist’s own invention, we’re unlikely to know.

The 1960s were a particularly fruitful for the artist, with exhibits in several cities through out the Midwest. One of those was at the Wasserman Gallery at Northwest Iowa Normal School in the Fall of 1968, though this work was no part of that exhibit.