E-Museum of Pyrographic Art
Antique Art Hall
to the Salon of
Dr. Norman W. Kingsley (1829–1913)
Pyrography Panels (pp. 555–559)
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|1908 Sketch of the Professional Life of Dr. Norman W. Kingsley
Adapted from the black-and-white 1908 article Norman W. Kingsley, M. D. S., D. D. S.
The Father of Modern Orthodontia, Author, Artist, Sculptor and Inventor.
Published in the 1909 History of dental surgery by Charles Rudolph Edward Koch and Burton Lee Thorpe.
The story of Kingsley's pyrographic art—in his own words—and the panels that he did after Rembrandt's portrait paintings, including illustrations of a dozen of those portraits, can be found in the exhibit above on pp. 555–559.
American artist Dr. Norman W. Kingsley (1829–1913), the Father of Modern Orthodontia, was less known for his artistry than for his dentistry. Nevertheless, his remarkable skill, innovation, and art were an integral part of everything he did. And if all of his accomplishments in dentistry and art were not enough, he was also known for some noteworthy inventions. One, which he invented for dentistry, was instrumental in his development of pyrography some forty years after he had invented it—it was a gas blow pipe (blowtorch), which he modified to use like a fine paintbrush for his pyrography. Because he decided to add this technique to the line work he was doing with the standard tool of that time (i.e., the thermo-pyrography tool), he referred to his innovative technique as "flame painting."
It appears that Dr. Kingsley may have been unaware of the special pyropinceau or paintbrush points for the thermo-pyrography tool that Manuel-Perier had invented, when he wrote (in the second part of p. 555 above), "It occurred to me that if I had a blow pipe that could produce a flame, fine as a tapering camel's-hair pencil, and as easily handled, I could make a picture in monochrome with all the varying shades that could be made with a brush and without lines, and I made an instrument admirably adapted to the purpose." It is still unknown which thermo-pyrography tool Kingsley found in that shop in Dresden, Germany, that sparked his interest in pyrography. J. William Fosdick left France one year before the appearance of Manuel-Perier's tool in Paris, and talked in an 1888 article about the German tool, so it is possible that he himself was using such a tool, i.e., a German one, in that 1894 portrait where he poses with one. If there is a German tool that predates the French one, the E-Museum has yet to discover it.
The E-Museum is fortunate to have an exhibit of one panel, at the link here, believed to be by Norman W. Kingsley. It is an extraordinary pyrographic portrait done in 1899 (when Kingsley would have been about 70 years old) after the painting of Rembrandt's self-portrait as a young man. (It is also shown above in the lower left corner of p. 557.)
Two more of Kingsley's works pictured here are likewise on exhibit here in the E-Museum. The one pictured in the upper left corner of page 558, we have learned thanks to Dr. Sheldon Peck, is entitled "A man in Russian costume," and is on exhibit in Kingsley's Circa 1900 Salon. The work shown here in the lower left corner of page 558 can be seen in Kingsley's 1901 Salon.
A short biographical sketch of
Dr. Kingsley is available at the link here. I had this note linked before as a quick reference. Because Google Books<.I> has now shut down most of their previously available resources in favor of selling books of them, this link now goes to a book that the reader may order.
If you have either any questions to ask or any information to offer regarding this article, these works, or any pyrography works by Norman W. Kingsley, please e-mail the E-Museum Curator.
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© 2009 Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.
4 July 2009. Updated 14 July 2010. Last updated 24 October 2015.