An Interesting Large c.1900 Carved & Painted Wooden Folk Art Figure; ‘Andrew’

Origin: English or American
Period: Late Nineteenth / Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1910
Height: 24.5 inches

The unusually large primitive folk art naively carved soft wooden figure standing at over two feet and having jointed arms, possibly fashioned for shop display use, as a bearded negro farm worker with a quizzical look on his black painted face, having glass eyes, part leather cap and horse hair beard, with pyjama stripe shirt and fudge coloured trousers and carved fingers, hands and large feet fashioned as black boots.

The condition of the figure is fair to good. There is typical wear to the wood and a good patination established especially to the exposed areas as one would hope, the face, particularly the nose, and to the hands and feet. The right arm joint has lost its original fixings so there is currently a nail holding it in place for articulation whilst there is a repair to one of the feet. Curiously he also has a metal rule in his pocket, perhaps he has recently been measuring up some work to one of the outhouses.

The family who previously owned this figure knew him affectionately as Andrew and had done so for at least the past seventy years. There is a possibility the figure is American due to folk art negro dolls being popular there though the uncertainty of the figures origin is part of his charm. He is large for a doll and as his hands are in the position for holding a wheelbarrow and he also has a partial stoop so we feel he was probably used with a barrow as a display feature, thus he could well have been fashioned for advertisement purposes rather than from a father to his son.

Pieces of folk art are ephemeral, simple, and often crude, though they are always enchanting. They were made by unskilled people, usually provincially, for everyday use and enjoyment, and are naively decorated, and made of basic materials. Folk art provides an excellent insight into the everyday life of ordinary people in times of old, and for that reason we love it.

If only all Andrews were this interesting.