Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Commedia dell'Arte Pipe

This person is supposedly Pierrot, a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late 17th-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne.

Claude Gillot (1673–1722), Four Commedia dell’Arte Figures: Three Gentlemen and Pierrot, c.1715

The name is a hypocorism of Pierre (Peter) the clown, typically depicted as a male character with a whitened face, white costume, and pointed hat. It is difficult to determine with a degree of certitude that this is Pierrot, because he is wearing a mask. 

Courtesy of a Private Collector
And if it's not Pierrot, it might not matter one whit, because it is a handsomely crafted full figural of a clown. This pipe measures 5" h., and 11" l.

Courtesy of a Private Collector

But again, could it be Arlequin?

Courtesy of a Private Collector

You tell us...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Moritz von Schwind Pipes

Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871)

Moritz von Schwind, c. 1860.

was a renowned Austrian painter, now remembered as "the last of the Romanticists".

Der Ritt Kunos von Falkenstein, 1843
"This is the painful ride over the impassable mountains of Kuno von Falkenstein—a task imposed on the knight by his lady as the price of her hand. In the picture the king of the gnomes helps the faithful lover by setting his legions of sprites to work, in guise of field-mice, to make a road over the crags. “

A Symphony, 1852
"Schwind's painting "A Symphony", which functions on several levels, was conceived as a wall decoration for a music room. In a richly framed four-part picture sequence, the story first unfolds about the love of a young man for a singer. Below, their first encounter during a house concert is depicted; above that, their re-encounter during a walk in the woods, and above that a scene where he declares his love during a costume ball. The story is finally brought to a close with a scene during the honeymoon of the freshly married pair. The four scenes are furthermore related to the four movements of Beethoven's Fantasy for Piano, Orchestra and Choir in C major, a performance of which is depicted in the bottom panel. The individual scenes are architecturally framed, and the entire composition is divided into different zones through the use of decorative grotesque elements. In this manner Schwind follows the classical wall-fresco tradition that, in turn, is oriented on antique Roman-Pompeian wall-painting. Schwind has, as well, added smaller related scenes."

Born in Vienna, Moritz counted Franz Schubert as one of his closest friends. (Schubert used to call Schwind his “sweetheart,”).

Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875)

According to Mrs Beavington Atkinson in the Art Journal of London (1873),

"From 1821, Schwind worked among the antiques in the academy, but especially in the studio of Schnorr; later also with Kupelwieser, who was his friend till death. For seven years, or thereabouts, Schwind led a joyous, careless life, defying fortune with a shrug of the shoulders, earning enough by illustrating story-books, devising head-pieces for cards, even painting signboards for cafés to add his portion to the frugal family menage, keep his pipe alight, and supply his easel with canvas and paint."

Schwind sketched a number of mythical designs in his 1844 book, Almanach von Radierungen. 

including smoking scenes,

and fanciful pipes (see Rapaport, A Complete Guide to Collecting Antique Pipes [1979, 1998], pages 54-55).

Sultan awaiting his Turkish coffee.

Stove with a soup tureen lid.

Knights errant and castles.

This wood bowl is reminiscent of the fanciful Von Schwind sketch above. Here four horsemen cross a drawbridge while a man in bas-relief fishes near the castle. The pipe lid is the castle's tower. The bowl is lined in tin. Inscription on the bottom reads: Freigt '88. (Charles P. Naumoff Collection)

According to Frederick Fairholt, "Tobacco" (1859/1876): 

"A Smoking Club" - one of Fairholt's illustrations in Tobacco, its History and Association

"Schwind of Vienna, an artist who received much praise from Goethe 

Goethe by Joseph Karl Stieler (1828)

for his powers of fanciful invention, etched a series of small plates, designed for pipes of this class, two of which we here copy."

"Winter scene, and the time may be evening, when, the day's labour over, the farm servants sleep on the bench which surrounds the large porcelain stove; and the aged boor lights his pipe, and dozes beside the mistress of the mansion, who also nods over her knitting. The icicles hang from the roof, and a figure of winter wrapped in a capacious mantle, floats gloomingly below,as a support to the whole."

"A still more ingenious design, admirably adapted to its purpose, without the least violation of natural arrangement. Two monks in a railed garden, well stocked with cabbages, are employed in their sacred duties. The one reads in the sunshine; the other enters the little chapel constructed principally from the stems of trees. The deep roof forms a capital cover for the pipe, beneath the eaves is a pigeon house; the whole scene is a pleasant picture of seclusion, well fitted to the contemplation of the thoughtful smoker - and few smokers are other than thoughtful men."

Many of von Schwind's illustrations were rendered as meerschaum and wood pipes,

Gondola with Orientals smoking on board.

and this one, a gondola scene, befits the style of a von Schwind illustration. 

Courtesy of a private collector

  The pipe is 9" long, and is fitted with a bi-color, turned and faceted amber stem.

Courtesy of a private collector

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)

Famous personalities, important personages, notables--kings, queens, military leaders, statesmen -- and many more have always been topical subject matter for sculptors, painters, and a host of other artists, including meerschaum pipe carvers. 
Here is a very large bust (6" h., 4" l.) 

From the Bruce Benjamin Collection.

 of what is believed to be Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) in period dress.