torsdag 26 mars 2015

The last resort

The other day I received a postcard that I bought on Ebay. Its common interest is probably next to none, except for myself. The motif is Gustaf Tenggren's home at Dogfish Head, West Southport Island, Maine and probably from the 1950ies.
The text reads: The home of Gustav Tenggren -- Dogfish Head, Maine.  As seen from the "Argo".
The boat house is not visible on this photo, indicating it might have not been built yet.
The photo has been taken from the tour boat Argo cruising the Maine archipelago coast
For me, it is interesting to learn that Gustaf Tenggren's fame, if only local, at the time was enough to print this card, which was possibly sold on-board the boat.
The excursion boat "Argo" departed from Bootbay Harbour for day trips along the coast.
The Tenggrens lived in New York City when they found the place by coincidence while sailing along the Maine archipelago coast. It was a former fisherman's homestead, and used to be an important producer of dried codfish. The Tenggrens bought the property in 1943 and moved there in 1944, beginning a major project to transform the buildings into a home and studio.
The structure includes a number of buildings: a dwelling house with Gustaf's studio, a barn,
storage houses. A boat house down at the water was added later. 
The remodeling continued during the 1940ies and 1950ies. Gustaf hired locals for the the work he didn't managed on his own. After Gustaf's death in 1970, Mollie lived in the house until her own death in 1984.
Gustaf and Mollie's home on Dogfish Head seen from top. 
Mollie Tenggren by the boat house.
Gustaf driving his car, possibly the same one as can be sen parked
in front of the house on the postcard.

fredag 20 februari 2015

Heisey's Glassware and Tenggren's history of glass

In the autumn of 1927 Gustaf Tenggren received a commission for an advertisement, depicting the Fenician's discovering the secret of glass-making. Situated in Newark, Ohio, Heisey's glassware was a well established producer of pressed household glass. From originally producing clear glass, in the mid 1920ies the company started to introduce brightly colored glass. Heisey's was the first glass company to use magazine advertising as an essential marketing tool.
In his income ledger Gustaf Tenggren has noted the steps through the delivery process quite detailed, making it possible to follow the complete order from the intermediating company, J Horace Lytle's Ad Agency in Dayton, Ohio.
December 1927: Original B-W watercolor for the ad "The Fenicians discovering glass". 
The first ad, in B-W only, was published in Saturday Evening Post in December 1927. It seems to have been very well received, as it were followed by four more in full color during 1928 and a final one in early 1929. Each of the following illustrations were executed as oil paintings and paid with $800 each, whereas the first B-W ad was $500.
January 1928: Marietta Beroviero reveals her father's craft secrets of
making colored glass to her lover, thus breaking the monopoly.
The row of paintings form a colorful panorama, illustrating some of the highlights in the history of glass. It gave Tenggren another opportunity to excel in historic clothing and consolidated his reputation as one of the more important commercial artists at the time.
May 1928: A Fenician artisan 2000 years ago amazes the Emperor by blowing glass.
July 1928: The Roman noblewoman receives a rare and precious gift, a glass item.
September, 1928: The officers drink to the health of the King, James II,
in a yard long glasses made out of the newly discovered flint glass.
January 1929: Petronius, sentenced to death by Nero, lifts a vase
of poisoned drink, determined to end his life in gaiety.

fredag 23 januari 2015

A Christmas legend of Hamelin Town

Here's a typical Tenggren illustration commission from his great period in the 1920ies. The story was published for the Christmas number of Good Housekeeping in 1928, but the actual work was done and delivered July 15. A month later, August 16, it was paid with $600, a not uncommon sum in Gustaf's ledger from the time.
The two illustrations were probably made in full color but the magazine has chosen to print them in a reduced color scale. The painting is cut in half to fit the spread.
Luckily, I found the original painting while browsing through the Miscellaneous illustration crates in the Tenggren papers, Kerlan Collection at University of Minneapolis, MA.
Opening spread for A Christmas legend of Hamelin Town, Good Housekeeping 1928.
Original painting for A Christmas legend of Hamelin Town.
Kerlan collection of the University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections
The other illustration for this story shows an old lady and a crowd of children. Let alone Tenggren's excellence in painting cute kids, this painting is interesting in another way. The model for the kneeling old lady is Tenggren's own mother, Augusta. 
Full page illustration in three colors for
A Christmas legend of Hamelin Town, Good Housekeeping 1928.
Tenggren often used his relatives as models for his paintings, and he loved his mother very much as I think can be seen from the beautiful portrait from 1932 below.
Gustaf Tenggren: Portrait in chalk of Augusta, mother of the artist, 1932.

torsdag 18 december 2014

A greeting from Christmases gone by

I'd like to wish all Tenggren fans a Merry Christmas with this home-made card from Gustaf Tenggren. It's printed in black but the signature is hand-written.
From its style, it should be from one of the the last years of the 1920ies. It was sent off to a friend and musician in Gothenburg. Tenggren produced a number of personal Christmas cards during the years, of which a few survived. Despite its battered state it shows great graphic craftsmanship.

måndag 1 december 2014

Magnificent Pinocchio concept painting for sale

Don't know what to buy for Christmas? Take a look at the latest catalog from auction house Profiles in History. Their Animation Art catalog displays a number of unique items, including this gorgeous Pinocchio concept painting by Gustaf Tenggren.
Pinocchio concept art by Gustaf Tenggren, 1938. 
An intent to spend a mere $60,000 - 80,000 can make you one of the bidders fighting for this gem. I think there will be some of you, though.

fredag 28 november 2014

Book release and art auction

Yesterday, Thursday, November 27th, the new biography on Gustaf Tenggren by Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman was released at Stockholm's Auktionsverk. Lars Emanuelsson and Lasse Åberg, famed artist, film director and Disneyana collector, spoke on Tenggren and his Disney connections.

Lasse Åberg and Lars Emanuelsson in front of some of the
Tenggren artwork sold at the auction.
All images: Lennart Bergman.

Lars Emanuelsson speaks on Tenggren.

Lars Emanuelsson signs the book, "Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi". 
The book was sold at the place and there was a queue of people wanting to get their copies signed by Lasse Åberg, Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman. The demand was pretty intense so the place ran out of books. There are still a couple of days to see the show - 36 great Tenggren pieces are held for sale.

fredag 21 november 2014

The viewing is on!

Yesterday, Thursday November 20th, the viewing of Stockholm's Auktionsverk's Quality Auction of Fine Arts and Antiques started. The Tenggren collection, holding 36 pieces, has been allocated a nice corner of its own, reminding of a dedicated once-in-a-lifetime Tenggren Museum.
The interest for Tenggren's art was great and I think a number of interested visitors will attend the combined presentation and book release. At Thursday November 27th, the new Tenggren biography, "Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi" by Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman will be presented. The auction itself is held December 3rd.