Julius Theodore Melchers (1829-1909) American, Detroit, Michigan (active 1852-1909)
Carved Indian Tobacconist Figure, ca. 1870
Monogrammed on base: J.T.M.
Carved wood, polychrome painted surface
Julius Theodore Melchers was known for his finely executed carved figures and was considered one of the industry’s leaders as a carver, sculptor and designer. This example is among a few known signed examples. Most signed examples of Melchers’ work are currently in museums. Melchers had an illustrious career and was highly regarded among his peers as one of the pioneers of carved tobacconist figures.
This example of an Indian Chief holding a bundle of cigar leaves in one hand and a tomahawk pipe in the other is standing with his foot resting on a stump. The figure is finely executed and with Melchers’ keen knowledge of what Chiefs wore and how they looked in real life it also exemplifies an accurate representation. While Melchers’ pieces were typically carved from one piece of wood, often from old ship masts, few are known to be fully intact. This example is in a great state of preservation, to include most of the original polychrome paint.
Condition: Restoration to a portion of one hand, replaced tomahawk pipe, on a contemporary base, minor restoration to painted surface. (see full condition report prepared by Peter Deen).
Dimensions: 57"h x 17"w x 15"d, 77"h (on base)
Item ID: FA-WDCRVG 314