''How to Catch a Mouse'', appears unsigned, mixed media on wooden table base, 22'' H x 46'' W x 19'' D, est: $8000/12,000 Exhibited: Hammer Galleries, New York, NY, 1960's; California Institute of Technology, Baxter Hall, Pasadena, CA, on long exhibit and loan 1972 to 2015. Note: Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist, sculptore and author Rube Goldberg is best known for his convoluted and complicated cartoons and contraptions that solve a simple problem. The present work is a rare polychromed ceramic, metal, string and found object sculpture illustrating how to trap a mouse. The brass presentation plaque reads: ''Woman, frightened by mouse, jumps on stool, hitting head against teeterboard and spilling water from pitcher into bathtub - bather scrubs back with brush attached to large jack lift which lifts dog to grab bone and work gears, causing mallet to strike shell of turtle - turtle pulls in neck, setting off cannon which shoot cannonball through coiled pipe - ball lands in the cup which its weight pushes down hand which closes mousetrap and, at the same time, causes it to upset innocent bystander who lights off fuse and sets off rocket which takes mouse and trap to the moon - never to be heard of again.'' The piece is purported to be one of only 3 such sculptures made by Goldberg; each is of the same mechanism. The sculpture is presented in a clear acrylic case on a wooden table base, measuring 48'' H x 46'' W x 19'' D overall. In the mid-1960s Robert L. and Mary H. Meyer purchased the present work from a Hammer Gallery exhibition of Goldberg?s work. Goldberg was present at the exhibit. The mousetrap sculpture was shipped to Meyer?s downtown Los Angeles law office where it was displayed until his death in 1972. At that time, for security and insurance purposes, the sculpture was loaned to the California Institute of Technology where it remained on display until 2015. Provenance: with Hammer Galleries New York, NY; Private Collection, Los Angeles, CA, acquired from the above, early 1960s, by descent in the family to the present owner
Visual: Generally good, as found condition. Minor firing surface cracks to the woman's feet. Minor paint chip on the yellow stool. Man in brown suit with possible crack and repair to right leg, rubbing and losses on some fingers. Other minor rubbing and very minor losses to the high points.