|Gutzon Borglum (1871-1941) “Remember the Maine”|
I received an interesting phone call today at our gallery Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery from an unknown source notifying me of a major historical commemorative tondo marquetry carving coming up for auction next week in Madrid, Spain. The caller was pretty adamant about having the piece purchased and brought back to the United States where it belongs instead of potentially having it purchased and remaining in Spain. That's the reason for writing this blog, so for all of you Spanish American collectors and museums take notice.
The auction house Alcala Subastas lists this item in their February 16 & 17, 2011 auction catalog, lot # 206 with the description: Gutzon Borglum (1871-1941) “Remember the Maine” Tondo commemorating the victims of the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. Tropical wood marquetry depicting the American eagle on the obverse and the reverse geometric marquetry woods. A tondo is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art, either a painting or a sculpture. The word derives from the Italian rotondo, "round." This tondo measures 91 cm. in diameter or a hair shy of 36 inches, is inscribed around the outer edge, "ONLY THOSE FIT TO LIVE DO NOT FEAR TO DIE" and "HABANA YACHT CLUB" below.
Many collectors may ask "so what's so special about this piece? Thousands of items were produced after the end of the Spanish American War celebrating America’s coming out party as a world power." Read my recent blog titled "Spanish American War Collectibles- USS Maine & USS Olympia Frosted Glass Windows". What makes this item special is that it is a commissioned piece produced for the Habana Yacht Club by the famous American sculpture Gutzon Borglum. For those of you not familiar with Borglum, he was the artist that created the monumental presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, the famous carving on Stone Mountain near Atlanta, as well as other public works of art. Here's a link to Wikipedia about (John) Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum.
|Photograph of Gutzon Borglum, circa 1919.|