William Edmondson (American/Tennessee, 1874-1951), “The Nursing Supervisor,” carved limestone sculpture depicting a woman with long hair, long skirt and apron in a standing position, one arm folded slightly above the other. 13 1/2″H x 5″ W x 8 1/2″ D. Separate, later base 1 3/4″ H x 7 1/2″ W x 8 1/2″ D. Circa 1940. Sculpture (without base) exhibited and illustrated in Miracles: The Sculptures of William Edmondson, Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, 1995. Plate #20, page 45 (note: reverse image was used in catalog photo). Also exhibited William Edmondson: A Retrospective, Tennessee State Museum, 1981 (refer to catalog, p. 53, #31). Biography: William Edmondson was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, the son of freed slaves, and worked most of his life as a railroad employee and janitor. A spiritual experience at the age of 57 prompted him to begin sculpting limestone using a railroad spike as chisel, and he claimed divine inspiration for the works produced during his 17 year art career. Women, Biblical figures and animals were among his favored subjects, although he also produced more utilitarian items such as tombstones and birdbaths. In 1937, Edmondson became the first African American to receive a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. He is regarded as one of the most important self-taught artists of the 20th century. Provenance: The living estate of Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, TN. CONDITION: Old 1 1/2″ loss to lower left front corner of sculpture base, light overall surface patination from outdoor exposure.
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