• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12186

    Important American Furniture, Silver, Outsider and Folk Art

    20 September 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 808

    A MONUMENTAL CARVED, PAINTED AND POLYCHROME-DECORATED SPREADWING EAGLE

    ATTRIBUTED TO WILHELM SCHIMMEL (1817-1890), CUMBERLAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, 1865-1890

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A MONUMENTAL CARVED, PAINTED AND POLYCHROME-DECORATED SPREADWING EAGLE
    ATTRIBUTED TO WILHELM SCHIMMEL (1817-1890), CUMBERLAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, 1865-1890
    26 in. high, 32 in. wide


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    The legacy of German immigrant Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890) rests in his wonderful pine, gesso and paint-decorated animals, which he carved in exchange for room and board from families around Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He fashioned lions, roosters, dogs and other figures, but his most successful sculptures are majestic spreadwing eagles. The example offered here is a monumental work, exceptional for its extremely rare large scale, crisp carving and elongated, delicate form. Using local pine, Schimmel carved the eagle’s body and wings separately, articulating them with angular, choppy feathers and joining them in the final construction. He primed his surface and added color and depth through red, brown, green and yellow paints that bring the bird to life.
    A notorious figure in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Schimmel was memorialized in an obituary published in the Carlisle [Pennsylvania] Sentinel 7 August 1890: “Old Schimmel, the German who for many years trampled through this and adjoining counties, died at the almshouse on Sunday. His only occupation was carving heads of animals out of soft pinewood. He was apparently a man of very surly disposition.” For more information on Schimmel's life, see Karl H. Pass, "Wilhelm Schimmel: Cumberland County Image Maker (1817-1890)," Folk Art, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 52-59. His work is in the collections of multiple major museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Winterthur Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New-York Historical Society.

    Provenance

    Private Collection, Delaware
    Sold, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 15 September 1979, lot 131


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of the Jack Warner Foundation