634
634
Samuel Anderson Robb (1851-1928)
SANTA CLAUS
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 875,000 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
634
Samuel Anderson Robb (1851-1928)
SANTA CLAUS
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 875,000 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

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New York

Samuel Anderson Robb (1851-1928)
SANTA CLAUS
Painted in New York and inscribed underside of base, ink: THIS IS THE / LAST FIGURE / MADE BY SAMUEL A. ROBB / ABOUT 1923 / Elizabeth W. Robb / MAY 16, 1966.
Paint on wood with mica flakes
38 3/4 by 16 by 15 7/8 in.
1923
New York
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Provenance

Elizabeth Wilson Robb
Frederick and Mary Fried
Sotheby Parke-Bernet, October 21-22, 1983, lot 11

Exhibited

"The Image Business: Shop and Cigar Store Figures in America," American Folk Art Museum, 1997:98
"Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions," New York, The South Street Seaport Museum, June 20-October 7, 2012

Literature

Fried, Frederick, Artists in Wood: American Carvers of Cigar-Store Indians, Show Figures, and Circus Wagons, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1970, p. 237
American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 356, fig. 321

Catalogue Note

Samuel Robb created this lively characterization of Santa Claus as a Christmas present for his daughter, Elizabeth, in 1923. According to her, it was the last figure that he carved. The smiling face and finely carved beard are especially engaging features, demonstrating that Robb still had the master's touch at age seventy-two. He died five years later after an extended illness.

Robb was the most prominent member of the last generation of traditional shipcarvers who created shop and cigar store figures. He was born in New York, the son of a Scottish shipwright who had recently immigrated to the United States, His mother was related to Jacob Anderson, one of the most talented New York shipcarvers at midcentury. Robb was probably apprenticed to Thomas V. Brooks, another successful shipcarver, in 1864. After serving his term in Brooks's shop, Robb went to work carving figures for William Demuth, a tobacco products distributor who carried a full line of shop figures.

Robb closed his workshop at 114 Centre Street in 1903, not long after completing a series of elaborate carvings for circus wagons for Barnum & Bailey. For the next few years, he kept small shops in various locations in Manhattan and, from 1908 to 191O, shared space in Brooklyn with another carver, Charles Brown. After that, he worked out of his home, first on 156th Street and then on Seaman Avenue in upper Manhattan, where this figure was made. -R.S.

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

|
New York