E-Museum of Pyrographic Art

Hall of Antique Pyrographic Art


to the Salon of
J. William Fosdick (1858–1937)
featured in Mabel Percy Haskell's Article
in Puritan Magazine, 1897

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by Mabel Percy Haskell, 1897
featuring J. William Fosdick (1858–1937).

Adapted from an 1897 article in Puritan Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 7, July 1897, pp. 224–225

In this article entitled "THE FOUNDER OF A NEW ART," which was published in Puritan Magazine in their July 1897 issue, the author Mabel Percy Haskell introduces various aspects of J. William Fosdick's pyrography and biography, including the customary reference to his predecessor Ball Hughes.

Of particular value in this article were some of the images. The one of his New York studio near Carnegie Hall shows a different view from one we have already. There have been many references to Fosdick's vacation studio called The Nutshell in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but never before a picture of it. It is a pity that the picture does not show him and his wife and daughter in it, but at least now we have an idea of what it looked like. Although Fosdick had talked of his studio that was his room in Paris during his student days, it was not usually mentioned where in Paris it was located as the author noted here. The dramatic description of the hardships perhaps seem more exaggerated when described by and about Fosdick because he worked from his own small living space, literally a studio apartment.

Another illustration shows the decorative portrait inspired by Longfellow's poem "Beware!". We have—almost!—never seen this image before, although it has been seen listed in two catalogues of Fosdick's exhibitions: It is no. 138 in his 1896 Philadelphia exhibit and no. 2 in his 1889 St. Louis exhibit. The latter listing includes the verse from the poem that is the calligraphy at the bottom of the panel. Finally, if you take a close look at Fosdick's iconic photograph (shown in the Antique Hall) where he is posed at work in his studio with his huge pyrography tool, you may recognize this panel as the work displayed there on his easel.

In addition, this is the first image we have seen thus far of J. William Fosdick's "Field of the Cloth of Gold" shown as a tetraptych. In the past, it has been referred to as a frieze, but that it had four panels was never noted. We have found documentation in various places that this frieze won the grand gold medal in Atlanta. We have seen, separately, the two central images from the Henry VIII tetraptych, where both were labeled, respectively, as Henry VIII. At long last, the mystery is solved. The left hand central panel is, of course, not Henry VIII but rather Francis I (note the banner with the fleur-de-lys motif) and the right hand one is Henry VIII (with the lion banner). The two end panels, which have heretofore never been seen illustrated nor even specifically mentioned, add admirably to the grandeur of the whole.

Regarding the provenance of Fosdick's prize winning tetraptych, we have from his 1909 article the following account in his own words:
"Balancing a big chimney piece, "The Field of the Cloth of Gold" occupies the whole end wall of the library in the country home of Mr. Oscar Iasigi at Stockbridge, Mass. The two kings, Henry VIII. and Francis I., with their legions, are seen against the cloth of gold, the texture of cord and thread being produced with the burning needle."

If you have either any questions to ask or any information to offer regarding this article and the works displayed in it, please e-mail the E-Museum Curator.

You are leaving the Salon of
J. William Fosdick's 1897 article
by Mabel Percy Haskell entitled

You can return to the

Antique Art Hall
or continue on your tour to one of the following:

Pyrographic Art Exhibit Halls:

Portraits and Paintings

Decorative and Applied Art


Folk and Traditional Art

Children's Pyrographic Art

Special Pyrographic Art

The Book Store and Library

Pyrography Tools and Techniques

Your questions and comments are welcome and appreciated. Please e-mail E-Museum Curator.

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© 2010 Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.
12 September 2010. Last updated 23 February 2011.