On The Square

Edmondson Carved his Niche

By Bidsquare

Jul 16,2015 | 10:00 EDT

William Edmondson is roundly regarded as one of the most important self-taught American artists of the 20th century. Born in Tennessee in 1884, the son of freed slaves worked most of his life as a railroad employee and janitor.

Edmondson credits a spiritual experience at the age of 57 for his decision to turn to sculpting limestone. Using a railroad spike as a chisel, his 17-year career saw a steady production of mostly Biblical figures, women, and animals. Edmondson’s popularity grew, and in 1937, Edmondson became the first African American to receive a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

The artist at work and left, Lot 204, a carved limestone squirrel by Edmondson

On Saturday, July 18, Case Antiques offers bidders the chance to tap into William Edmondson’s legacy during their Summer Art & Antiques Auction. Lot 204 is a carved limestone sculpture of a squirrel, sitting on its haunches and eating a nut, atop an integral carved base.

Apparently, the piece was a gift from the artist to the Mrs. Claude P. Street, whom Edmondsons sister worked for. The artist was a frequent visitor to the Street home, and he gave this sculpture as a gift to Mrs. Street for her garden, where it remained for many years.

Lot 80, an 11 carat diamond brooch or pendant by George Headley

Case Antiques’ Summer Art & Antiques Auction features over 900 lots in need of new homes. Highlights include select paintings and ceramics from the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama; a collection of fine 1940s-60s diamond jewelry designed by George Headley, plus art and antiques from the host of prized estates. Two Southern Silver collections are also included. 

Look now at the full catalog.