In the second half of the nineteenth century, carved wooden figures of various sorts were produced by anonymous self-taught artisans as well as trained woodcarvers, many of them European immigrants. This naturalistic sheep was carved by someone with a sure and accomplished hand. Despite an oral tradition of being the sign for a woolen mill, the original purpose is unknown, although there is evidence that it stood outside for many years.

RELATED EXAMPLES: A slightly smaller version of this sheep was exhibited at the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, in 1931 (American Folk Sculpture 1931, p. 63, no. 74B) and was later in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection. Deaccessioned in 1981, it was exhibited at the Hirschl and Adler Folk Art Gallery, New York, in 1987. Found in Marblehead, Massachusetts, it, too, showed evidence of having been outside. That there is more than one would strengthen the assumption that the maker was a professional carver.

Book excerpt: Warren, David B., Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection. Houston: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Painted eastern white pine
32 1/4 × 38 3/8 × 14 in. (81.9 × 97.5 × 35.6 cm)
Credit Line

The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Acquired by Miss Ima Hogg on NA, from Hirschl Adler, NYC