OSCAR SPENSER (VIRGINIA, 1908-1983) FOLK ART CARVED AND PAINTED SNAKE, depicting a dark brown and yellow rattlesnake with incised scales and red eyes, signed at underside of head. 20th century. 60" L. Provenance: Property of a Pennsylvania private collector.
Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc., 4/5/14, lot 403 (partial).
Ex-collection of the late John and Lil Palmer, Purcellville, VA. Catalogue Note: Oscar Spenser (1908-1983) was born in the mountains of Virginia and went to work at age 18 in the nearby coal mines. At age 20 he was involved in an accident with a coal car deep in the mine and lost his leg in the ordeal. Thereafter he painted houses, raised rabbits, and focused on his carvings, often searching the mountain woods for sassafras, sourwood, dogwood, and other sinuous specimens to use in his creations. Using his knife, carving tools, paint, glass beads for eyes, and electrical wire for tongues, Spenser carved snakes almost exclusively, calling himself a "crooked feller" who "take[s] to crooked branches". Spenser was one of 20 artists chosen by Ramona and Millard Lampell for inclusion in their "O, Appalachia" homage to the best contemporary self-taught artisans of the southern Appalachian mountains. The present example is emblematic of his mature work.
Excellent condition, loss to tip of tongue.