Extremely rare and important carving of an American Indian Princess, attributed to Joseph Bowers of New York, circa 1850. She is made out of a single block of wood. This beautifully carved figurehead has a original painted surface. Her skin tones are a rust red color and her skirt color is a bright blue. The Indian princess is wearing a headdress. The carved feathers are in a standing vertical position and are highest at the center and gently taper in height as they go around the head. The headdress retains some black paint in the feathers and some red in the thin band running around the perimeter of the base of the headdress. Below the headdress are carved hair strands which are parted at the center of the forehead and continue over the ears and then down the back in black paint. Her facial features are very refined and delicate and she has peaceful countenance. The eyes are very detailed and there is some of the original pigment that features the pupils in her eyes. The Indian's right arm crosses her waist at an angle and her right hand is clutching a rounded object. The Indian's left arm is along her side and her hand is covered by a flowing red sash which is attached to an articulated belt or sash. The skirt has beautifully carved folds and a mustard painted border along its base. Below her heaid is a slanted section of natural wood which has a lot of color resulting from exposure to the elements while in service on her vessel. This section was unpainted because it would have been covered by the bowsprit or some spar on the ship that was mounted above covering this unpainted area. The original iron rod that mounted the figurehead to the vessel is still present at the back of the figure and one can see where the hole is in the lower section in the front of the figure. The carving has a great size for display purposes and having an Indian princess as the subject of the carving, makes this ship’s carving highly desirable piece of American Folk Art.
Condition: The figurehead is in untouched original condition. The paint color has a wonderful mellow glow and has a crackled surface. There is a concentration of paint loss in the front of the face, chest and right arm. The carving has typical age cracking and the bottom of the legs have been missing for some time. (FA-1131)
Provenance: Collection of Fred Giampietro
Sold in 2000 to private collector on the Oregon Coat
2022 Purchased by Hyland Granby Antiques
Publication: "American Primitive" by Ricco Maresca has an illustration of a carving signed: "Joseph Bowers". This carving depicts James Seward, Governor of New York, and has many similar attributes to the Indian carving described above. The Indian princess figurehead will be illustrated full page in a book titled: "American Vernacular" also by Ricco Maresca and is being published by Bulfinch Little Brown in the fall of 2002 page 148.
Note: The carving and colors of this figurehead are very similar to another signed and dated carving of a figurehead featuring an Indian Chief bust carving signed J. Bowers 1861. See photographs that accompany this descriiption.
Dimensions: Length 22 inches; Width 11 1/4 inches; Height 12 3/4 inches.