Rare Carved Pine Pheasant Hen Weathervane
Probably Connecticut, Circa 1875
Pine with traces of paint
22 by 31 by 10 in. (55.9 by 78.7 by 25.4 cm)
Found on Albert Shirber property, Georgetown, Connecticut
Edith Gregor Halpert, New York
David A. Schorsch, New York, 1994
"Masterpieces in American Folk Art," The Downtown Gallery, New York, 1941
"Amateur Art of 100 Years Ago," The Downtown Gallery, New York, 1952
"Teh Edith Gregor Halpert Collection," The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1960
Schorsch, David A. American Folk Art: Selected Examples from the Private Collectino of the Late Edith Gregor Halpert, New York: David A. Schorsch, 1994, pp. 12-13.
Williams, Hermann Warner, The Edith Gregor Halpert Collection, Washington D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1960, n.p.
American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 342, fig. 307
Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000 USD
The graceful sweep of this pheasant hen weathervane, from its delicate beak to its long, flowing tail makes it a prime example of 19th century woodcarving. The entire surface is intricately worked with the bold strokes of a master carver who favored strong outline and stylized design. It is also well constructed, as seen in the tightly fitted tongue-and-groove joint with which the tail is attached to the body. At the time, carved wooden eagles were in great demand as architectural ornaments, figureheads, and weathervane patterns, as well as for any number of civic and ceremonial purposes. Shipcarvers, in particular, specialized in creating them for local markets throughout the Northeast. In this case, the skillful simplification of form and the overall handling of the feathers suggest that this weathervane was made by a shipcarver who was familiar with the genre.
Found on an outbuilding of a property in Georgetown, Connecticut, the piece was once in the collection of Edith Gregor Halpert, the influential dealer who was a leading figure in the revivial of interest in American folk art. She established the American Folk Art Gallery, the first such venture in this country. The gallery was on West 13th Street in Manhattan, on the second floor of her Downtown Gallery, which was frequented by the modernist artists she represented as well as, at one time or another, many progressive critics and collectors. In 1940 she moved the gallery to East 51st Street, where this weathervane was exhibited in the early 1950s.