E-Museum of Pyrographic Art

Antique Art Hall


to the Salon
the catalogue excerpt of

J. William Fosdick's
1896 Exhibition and Lecture
at the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
in Philadelphia

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Catalogue of the 1896 Exhibition
of J. William Fosdick

Fosdick excerpt (cover and title page, and pp. 17–20) adapted from the 20-page catalogue of the 1896 joint exhibition of the group show of the "Pictures of the Glasgow School" and the solo exhibition of "The Adoration of Jeanne D'Arc And Other Burnt Wood Decorations by J. William Fosdick."

Once again, we are captivated by the appearance of this 1896 catalogue of J. William Fosdick's to discover a substantial exhibition of 42 listings, many of which were heretofore unknown to the E-Museum. The star of the show was Fosdick's masterpiece Jeanne d'Arc making its debut in Philadelphia at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), who hosted the show.

It is remarkable that out of all of those 42 works listed, the one, the only one, selected to illustrate the catalogue—despite the stellar Jeanne d'Arc—was the panel of The Miller's Daughter, entry no. 127, that has appeared in a few places, most recently and surprisingly as part of a triptych chimney overmantel illustrating a fiction article: The House that Jack and Jill Built, a series article on interior design in The Delineator magazine. That 1902 article and its commentary are exhibited in the E-Museum at the link here.

Six of the entries in Fosdick's 1896 exhibit are for studies or designs, shown perhaps to invite viewers to glimpse the artist's process. Studying those must have been particularly meaningful in the case of the grand Jeanne D'Arc triptych, which today is in the American Art Museum of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. For that daunting project, the artist states, in other accounts, that he burned in places to depths of half an inch and had to make special tools to accommodate its size of 9 ft tall by 13 ft wide (the width of the three panels together).

Another magnificent work is Fosdick's Louis XIV—the size of a massive door—displayed at the link here in the E-Museum. That work, entry no. 107 in the catalogue, was immediately acquired by Philadelphia and, within a month, its acquisition was much lauded in a New York Times article displayed in Fosdick's Studio exhibit here in the E-Museum.

This is the first time we have seen a second listing with the title of Louis XIV. Besides the entry no. 107 above, there is a second portrait of Louis the XIV listed as entry no. 139. Research is underway to determine if there is possibly a smaller portrait of Louis XIV in existence.

By way of background, three 1896 letters regarding this exhibition of Fosdick's works from Harrison S. Morris, the managing director of PAFA, written to art promoter Charles Kurtz (who, it seems, was directly involved with the Glasgow School that was sharing this exhibition), have been found in the microfilm archives of the latter's personal papers in the Smithsonian Library and are on display at the link here.

If you have either any questions to ask or any additional information to offer on the lecture or works by J. William Fosdick, please e-mail the E-Museum Curator.

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J. William Fosdick's
1896 Exhibition and Lecture in Philadelphia

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© 2009 Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved. 14 August 2009.
Last updated 21 November 2009.