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Copley Fine Art Auctions is the world's leading American sporting art auction company. Located in Hingham, MA, Copley specializes in antique decoys and 19th- and 20th-century American, sporting, and wildlife paintings. Principal Stephen O'Brien Jr., a fourth-generation sportsman with a refined colle...Read more
Arthur Burdett Frost (1887-1917)
The Music for the Dance,1891
signed and dated "A.B. Frost. 1891." lower left
watercolor and gouache, 15 by 23 in.
This painting served as the two-page centerfold for the December 12, 1891 issue of "Harper's Weekly" magazine. It depicts a festive scene of four musicians traveling through a winter landscape. The bundled-up musicians carry their instruments and joyously interact with one another, recounting the last stop while on their way to the next show.
A photogravure version of the watercolor also appeared in F. Hopkinson Smith's 1892 book "American Illustrators," alongside prints by Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington. A contemporary review of the book notes Frost's print as, "among the best plates."
This famous work has been reproduced multiple times in scholarly books such as "The Music of Black Americans: A History."
The artist A. B. Frost was born in Philadelphia in 1851, but spent his most prolific years in New Jersey. Considered one of the great illustrators of the “Golden Age of American Illustration,” he illustrated more than ninety books and produced thousands of illustrations for “Harper’s Weekly,” “Scribner’s,” and “Life” magazines. Frost’s illustrative work chronicles the mood and details of the daily life of farmers, hunters, and fishermen, as well as barnyards and pastoral motifs. By 1876, he was on Harper’s staff working on many books, including “Tom Sawyer,” “Uncle Remus,” and “Mr. Dooley.” He also illustrated Theodore Roosevelt’s sporting book, "Hunting Trips of a Ranchman." Frost was an ardent sportsman who spent his summers and autumns fishing, rowing, and hunting ducks and snipe. He completed hundreds of watercolors and oils of the New Jersey seaside. Frost is best known for his hunting and shooting prints which capture the drama of sport in realistic, detailed settings. Frost lived at his estate, Moneysunk, in Convent Station, New Jersey.
Provenance: Private Collection, New York, purchased from Henry M. Reed
Literature: Harper's Weekly, December 12, 1891, illustrated. F. Hopkinson Smith, "American Illustrators," New York, NY, 1893, plate, illustrated. "Three Works on the Arts," New York Times, December 18, 1892. Eileen J. Southern, "The Music of Black Americans: A History," Third Edition, New York, NY, 1997, p. 176, illustrated.
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