Julius Theodore Melchers: Rare Cigar Store Indian Tobaccon...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionJulius Theodore Melchers: Rare Cigar Store Indian Tobacconist Figure, one of only a few known signed by the artist. Considered one of America's finest and most renowned carvers of his time, Melchers immigrated to Detroit, Michigan from Prussia after studying at Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris. Recognized for his attention to detail, the authenticity of Melchers carved Indian figures is the one feature that excites and inspires collectors to seek his work. It has been said that Melchers achieved such accuracy by using live Indian subjects, being sure to capture the correct dress and original style. Melchers typically carved his trade figures from one piece of wood, often using ship's masts because of their strong straight grain, but over time this type of medium would often crack and split. That makes this example quite rare since it is fully intact and in an exceptional state of preservation including most of its original polychrome paint. Another unique attribution are the letters "J.T.M." found on the block below the figure's left foot, making this one of only a few known to be signed by the artist. To confirm the authenticity of the initials, the consignor engaged a restoration expert who took a sample of the paint from one initial. When examined the sample revealed it had the same paint history as the block. The expert goes on to provide details of a restored front section of the right hand holding tobacco leaves as well as a replaced carved axe in the left. A copy of the condition report by Peter Dean is included with the lot. As is often the case, this wonderful figure standing a total 77" tall (including the base) on a modern platform that conforms to known period examples.
One can easily appreciate the work it took to create this nostalgic, iconic piece of Americana. Even more exciting is the offering of a trade figure with so much of its original surface and paint still intact.
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