William Edmondson (American/Tennessee,1874-1951) carved limestone sculpture of a squirrel, sitting on its haunches and eating a nut, atop an integral carved base. Exhibited, “William Edmondson: A Retrospective,” Tennessee State Museum, 1981 (see exhibition catalog of same name, Georganne Fletcher, ed., p. 65, no. 100). Sculpture measures 12-3/4″ H x 5″W x 8″D. Provenance: The collection of Robert and Deborah Street of Nashville, a gift from the artist to the late Mrs. Claude P. Street. Edmondson’s sister, Sarah, worked for the Streets, and the artist was a frequent visitor to their home. He gave this sculpture as a gift to Mrs. Street for her garden, where it remained for many years. Street family members exhibited a photograph of Sarah Edmondson in the same exhibit (see exhibit catalog, p. 92, no. 112). Affidavit from family members is included with this lot, along with additional paperwork related to the exhibition loan. 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. Biblical figures, women, and animals were frequent 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. Condition: Surface weathering, small chips and roughness consistent with the medium and as made.
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