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Lot 32: Thomas Ball American, 1819-1911 Whispering Zephyr

American Furniture, Decorative Arts & Paintings

Platinum House

by Doyle New York

April 22, 2013

New York, NY, USA

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Description: Thomas Ball
American, 1819-1911
Whispering Zephyr, 1884
Signed T. Ball (lr)
White marble relief
Diameter 19 7/8 inches
Gloria Stacey, London (acquired from an estate sale, London, early 1950s)
Thence by descent to the current owner
William Ordway Partridge, "Thomas Ball," The New England Magazine, vol. 12, pp. 290-304, illus., another version.

In My Three Score and Ten (John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, 1891), Thomas Ball writes of his sculpture projects, noting that after his return to his Florence from a Boston sojourn in 1883, he "modeled a new statue, in small, of Lincoln, and one of Garfield. These, together with portrait busts (General Grant among them) and ideal medallions ("Whispering Zephyr," "Ophelia," etc), occupied my time till January, 1885."

Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Ball was both musically and artistically gifted, and taught himself first to paint, and then to sculpt in wood. His first sculptural effort was a portrait of Jenny Lind. In 1854, at the age of thirty-five he traveled to Florence to study, and remained there for years, part of the vibrant artists' colony that included Hiram Powers and the Brownings. His studio became a regular destination for Americans on the Grand Tour, and aspiring collectors commissioned versions of his current projects, which in 1884 would have included the graceful Whispering Zephyr, as well as Ophelia.

Whispering Zephyr depicts the beautiful Chloris, goddess of flowers and the personification of spring in Greek mythology (known as Flora in Roman lore). She is wooed by Zephyr, Greek god of the West Wind and harbinger of spring (and son of Aurora, goddess of the dawn). Here depicted as a cherubic youth, Zephyr is enveloped in swirling draperies, tossed by the same breeze that gently lifts the curls framing his beloved's face.It is unclear how many multiples of Whispering Zephyr were produced by Ball. One version is included in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Condition Report: Surface grime. There are some very small chips to the edge in the lower left quadrant. The marble border is painted yellow. There are three holes to in the border from former mounting, on in the top center, one in the lower right quadrant and the lower left quadrant.

Any condition statement is given as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Doyle New York shall have no responsibility for any error or omission. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging.

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