518
518
Rare painted poplar spice cup, attributed to Jared Stiehly (1833-1911) and Elizabeth Mayer Stiehly (1826-1878)
Mahantango or Schwaben Creek Valley, Northumberland and Schuylkill Counties, Pennsylvania, dated 1861
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 245,000 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
518
Rare painted poplar spice cup, attributed to Jared Stiehly (1833-1911) and Elizabeth Mayer Stiehly (1826-1878)
Mahantango or Schwaben Creek Valley, Northumberland and Schuylkill Counties, Pennsylvania, dated 1861
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 245,000 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian

|
New York

Rare painted poplar spice cup, attributed to Jared Stiehly (1833-1911) and Elizabeth Mayer Stiehly (1826-1878)
Mahantango or Schwaben Creek Valley, Northumberland and Schuylkill Counties, Pennsylvania, dated 1861
Inscribed on lid, paint: Isaac Stiely, May 1861
7 3/4 by 4 in. diam.
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Exhibited

"Surface Attraction: Painted Furniture from the American Folk Art Museum," New York, American Folk Art Museum, September 20, 2005-March 26, 2005

Literature

American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 183, fig. 155

Catalogue Note

The Reverend Isaac Faust Stiehly (1800-1869) was a prominent itinerant minister serving a number of German Reformed churches in the Mahantango Valley region of the adjoining Northumberland and Schuylkill Counties of Pennsylvania. A man of multiple talents, he was also a stonecutter, millwright, and farmer.1 This ornately turned and decorated covered spice cup is thought to have been made by Isaac's son Jared and decorated by Jared's wife, Elizabeth Mayer Stiehly, as a presentation gift, probably on the occasion of the minister's sixtieth birthday. Jared apprenticed with his father and helped operate a mill the elder Stiehly established along Mahantango Creek, where he specialized as a lathe operator. Elizabeth was the daughter of Johannes Mayer, a local cabinetmaker. Both families were prominent in the religious and artistic lives of their community; such marriages uniting families of similar occupation or social standing were common within many close-knit Pennsylvania German farming communities.

Like the work of the turner Joseph Long Lehn (1798-1892) of Lancaster County, the spice cups produced by the Stiehlys follow earlier Continental prototypes but exhibit a more pronounced stylistic tie to early-nineteenth-century neoclassicism in their urn-shaped turned forms and rims painted with undulating swag-pattern borders. Elizabeth's preference for overlapping fruit and floral compositions and her subtle methods of gradated shading also suggest her possible familiarity with the techniques of brushed and stenciled theorem paintings on velvet and tin popular during the early Victorian period.2 The four main floral vignettes she conceived to decorate the sides of this cup depict four different stages of development and maturity in the flowers and fruit of the strawberry, while the primroses separating these compositions are nearly identical, having been laid out with compass and point prior to their being painted. -J.L.L.

1 Henry M. Reed, who has conducted extensive studies on the decorated furniture and early craftsmen present in the Mahantango Valley, suggests that Isaac Stiehly may also have been an accomplished scrivener and fraktur artist; see Reed, "Finding the Fabulous Furniture of the Mahantango Valley," Pennsylvania Heritage 21, no. 4 (fall 1995): 24.
2 A closely related covered cup by these artists was sold at Sotheby's sale 7025 (10/97, lot 26). Together the cups help substantiate the later stylistic patterns embraced by the Stiehlys.

Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian

|
New York