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((( HORACE PIPPIN )))|((( THE WASP / UPDATES )))|((( FOLK ART ROCKER )))|((( MUSIC PROJECT )))|((( CONTACTING US )))
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THE WASP
HORACE PIPPIN PAINTING
Oil on Canvas Adhered to Cardboard
Monogramed in Main Subject Area: H.E.P.
Signed Lower Right Corner: H. PIPPIN
Dated: 1924 Size: Approx. 6 in. x 6 in.
*** Title has been attributed. ***
All rights to all images are reserved by Joe Rea.
All rights are reserved by Joe Rea.
The reader is welcome to quote this presentation provided
full acknowledgment of its origin is stated with any quotes used.

** REVIEWS ON THIS PRESENTATION **

"...brilliant Pippin research...really wonderful!..."
Celeste-Marie Bernier, Associate Professor,
University of Nottingham, Non-Residential
Fellow Harvard University, Recipient of the
2010 Philip Leverhulme prize for
African-American art.

"Fascinating..." M. Alexis Scott,
Publisher/CEO, Atlanta Daily World


Note: There are multiple aspects to this piece, which may add or subtract from the current, at times cloudy, understanding of the artist Horace Pippin and his true story. As reason dictates, the aspects of any piece, which truely determine its authenticity, are those distinctive qualities of the individual artist which are repeatedly apparent in each creation by the artist. These distinctive qualities include things like the artist's palette and the artist's brush stroke style. They also include the subject matters used by the artist, the artist's stylistic treatment of the subject matter and the expression of the deepest parts of the artist's soul, through the manipulation of these other distinctive qualities. These are the most important aspects that must be contemplated in the consideration of this piece. Due to his life experiences, some of the distinctive qualities of Horace Pippin are perhaps more individualistic than with other artists. Pippin's palette is very distinctive with its fiery reds, glowing whites, deep dark greens and his soft purples, sometimes used in tonal shading. His tiny brush stroke style, which was likely due to wounds he received during World War I, is also very distinctive. As a result, he had to guide his brush hand with his other hand, in order to apply his brush strokes. It is these distinctive qualities that have been given the highest degree of consideration regarding this piece.

Subject: A painting of an older black man in fine dress, showing the bust portion of his body, his face having all the aspects of an extremly intense emotional reaction to something that appears to be outside the view expressed by the painting. The intensity of emotion expressed in this man's face is so apparent and stands out so strongly to the observer, that it draws the observer straight into it. The observer can see the intensity of emotion but, because what is causing this reaction appears to be outside the view of the painting, it leaves observers having to define, on their own, the cause of the reaction. This creates an interactive experience for the observer as the mind naturally begins to try to fill in the reasoning for the man's intense reaction. The results of this natural reasoning process, are just as dependent on the individual observer's life experiences and current frame of mind, as they are on the subject matter in the painting itself. Depending on the observer, the man's reaction could be defined as some sort of intense, positive reaction. More likely it would be defined by the observer as a reaction of great horror, fear or some other intensely negative reaction. But what could it be? One can not help but wonder, what is the horrific tragedy this man is wittness to, or even worse is about to befall him. There is another element in this piece that at first seems to elude the naked eye of the observer. Even under closer observation it first appears to be nothing more than a small speck of paint, that may have been accidentally flicked from the end of a brush onto the piece. But under much, much closer scrutiny, the observer can then see that this man's intense emotional reaction is caused by a very small flying insect.

The remainder of this presentation is divided into three main parts which are titled "The Front", "The Back" and "Summary". The first part, "The Front", is where the distinctive qualities of the artist will be pointed out and compared with other works by Horace Pippin. Other aspects on the front of this piece will also be commented on in this part. The second part will address "The Back" of this piece. That is where there is a lot of writing, some of which reads "From Dr. Christian Brinton".



The Front

The Distinctive Qualities

There is no greater expert on the art of Horace Pippin than Horace Pippin himself. It was he who let us know that it was his experiences in World War I that brought out the art in him. In remarking on those experiences, he let us know how he would never forget the suffering and how he would also never forget the sunset. What he didn't say is how he was also most likely never able to forget the blood he saw on the battlefields of World War I Europe. Many have commented on Pippin's palette, generally remarking on his reds as fiery reds. But when one looks at Pippin's works, one can see that he had a much more far reaching range in his reds. In the context of the World War I European battlefield, with its landscape practically sucked dry of its natural colors by the ravages of war, one can see how the multitude of reds in a single sunset would have made a deep impression on the artist. In this same context one can also better understand how, seeing the blood oozing from the bodies of fellow human beings, as it goes through the process of coagulation and metamorphoses from its bright, rich red color of living blood to its deeper, darker shades of dying blood, would have burnt deep everlasting impressions in the depths of the soul of Horace Pippin. In Pippin's recollection of the day he was wounded, he told how he had to take cover in a shell hole with several other men. The men tried to bandage his wound but ended up having to leave him there. He spoke of how he repeatedly tried to climb out, but each time a sniper's fire would prevent him, and by the later portion of the day he was too weak to do so. A French soldier came by and looked in the hole, but before Pippin could warn him about the sniper, a bullet from the sniper's weapon passed through the man's head. Pippin has been quoted as saying "He stood there for at least ten seconds before he slipped down,". Althought only ten seconds, one can understand how they lived on in the depths of the artist's being for the rest of his life. When the man finally did go down, he slid down into the hole on top of Pippin. Another color of Pippin's palette, his whites, are often remarked on as glowing whites. In the same context, one can see how just about any white would have stood out in a glowing effect, against the devastated landscape backdrop of the World War I European battlefield. Pippin also remarked on how he created his paintings. He let us know that he would go over a picture in his mind several times, so that when he was ready to paint it he had all the details he needed. He let us know how he took his time and examined every coat of paint carefully, to be sure that the exact color he had in mind was satisfactory to him. He described how he worked his foreground from the background, stating "That throws the background away from the foreground. In other words bringing out my work." Pippin has also been quoted as saying "I paint things exactly the way they are...". This is evident in the extensive and thorough detail of the structural content in his works. But it must also be realized that Pippin was a master of color. It was on the battlefield of World War I Europe that Pippin learned how the detail of color could evoke deep emotions from within the human being. He learned those lessons of the power that color has through his own personal, emotional experiences, which he encountered on the devastated landscape of the European battlefield. Pippin said "I don't go around here making up a whole lotta stuff. I paint it exactly the way it is and exactly the way I see it." This comment of Pippin's has often been referred to in discussions of the structural detail in his art. But it is no less significant, by any degree, in the discussion of his masterful use of color.


Subject matter and stylistic treatment: It has been remarked that Horace Pippin's subject matter was very wide and diverse. It has also been expressed that his range of subject matter included historical, war-related, still lifes, portraits, regional landscapes, religious or biblical scenes and African-American domestic life. Although these terms are not incorrect, they fail to encompass a fuller, comprehensive range of Pippin's subject matter. Pippin was far more diverse and creative in his selection of subject matter than these limited terms would allow. The most common aspect of Pippin's subject matters, found in the majority of his creations, is his expression of human condition. Horace Pippin was a skilled master of the use of elements in his works to express human condition. Human condition is individualistic and is a result of the individuals life experiences, when weighed through the perspective of that individual. It is no more or less associated with poverty or injustice then it is with wealth or privilege. These are merely the life experiences of the individual, but it is the perspective of each person which determines whether the experience serves as a positive or negative in his or her being. Great wealth and privilege is no more a guarantee to the joy of life, than injustice or poverty is a sentence to the misery of life. In Pippin's work, Major-General Smedley D. Butler U.S.M.C. Retired 1937, the artist depicts Butler, the son of a Quaker family with wealth and privilege, just as he sees him, a proud man with his eyes on troubled skies; but also one who, at about the age of 55, has still learned little about the value of humbleness in life. This interpretation is based on the comments of the only two people involved in this piece, Major-General Butler and Horace Pippin himself. It has been said that Horace Pippin, a man who new a lifetime of poverty and injustice, in remarking on this piece, commented that he painted Butler against a cloudy sky because he was always looking for trouble during his military career. It has also been said that Butler, a man who new a lifetime of wealth and privilege, commented that he liked the portrait, but his one complaint was that it only showed 10 of his 19 medals.


Pippin had no problem categorizing his art. Simply put, he viewed his art style as his and no one else's. Very few others have been able to accept this simple self-definition of Pippin's art. Instead his art style has been categorized with an array of labels. His creations have been categorized as folk art, naive art and primitive art, as well as others. Although there may be aspects which relate to Pippin's style in many of these categorical style definitions, only Pippin's definition fully encompasses his artistic style. In this piece the artist has frozen, and captured in time, a specific reaction and moment in the life of the main subject. By strict definition this piece could be referred to as a portrait. But in general a portrait is a perceived overall representation of a person, as opposed to a specific moment in the person's life. As previously stated, Pippin was a master in the use of elements in his works to express human condition. The bulk of his works contain many highly detailed elements for him to draw upon to express this, and because of his expert use of both color and elements to express emotional human condition, Pippin had much less need to be reliant on the facial expressions of his human subjects. There may be those who would say that Pippin's human subjects are rather devoid of facial expression, but often their facial expressions are so subtle that they may be easily overlooked. One would be amiss though to think that Horace Pippin, an artist who's skills in elemental detailing are so masterful as to demand accolades, was unable to achive the same level of skill in facial expressions. He just didn't need to in most of his works. This is just another aspect of Pippin's art that was brought out through his war experiences. It was on the battlefield of World War I Europe that Pippin learned how people exposed to long term hellish conditions would begin to lose their facial expressions to the horrors around them, even as those horrors were still burning deep emotional scars in their souls. Pippin even commented, in his recollections of his war experiences, on how people's outward emotional expressions to what was going on around them would begin to subside as time went on. In this piece however, the artist has used a comparatively limited number of elements in the composition. The basic elements in this piece are the stylized representation of a sunset, just off to the right side of the man's lower face and chest, the man himself and the small flying insect that the man is reacting to, which under greater magnification turns out to be some sort of wasp or bee, as it has a stinger protruding from the end of its abdomen.


There may be multiple meanings that the artist was using the stylized sunset element to express and these may not be readily apparent to the observer. But one obvious meaning it relates to the observer is the location of the scene. Without it the observer could just as easily interpret this as an indoor or outdoor scene, but with it the observer is filled with the sense of an outdoor scene. It is the man who is the main subject in the piece. It is a moment in this man's life, when his deepest internal fears overwhelm him so much that he is unable to contain the outward expression of them, that is the theme of the piece. The horrific fear expressed by the man gives a great value to the significance of the flying insect element in the overall composition. This lends itself to making the details of that element far more important to the scene. If the flying insect is acually a bee, one may think that, from the stand point of Horace Pippin, a man who knew well the horrors of the World War I European battlefield, this man's expression of fear was an extremely intense overreaction. Although it is true that many very brave people have that one thing that can overwhelm them to the point of this type of reaction, that is not the case with Horace Pippin, at least not with bees. The noted food historian and author, William Woys Weaver, has remarked on how his grandfather new Horace Pippin. Mr. Weaver has commented on how Pippin's war wound left him with pain of an arthritic nature, which Pippin referred to as the miseries. Mr. Weaver has also said that Horace Pippin had a large network of friends that stretched from Philadelphia to Baltimore and beyond, and that Mr. Weaver's grandfather had bee hives that were his pride and joy. According to Mr. Weaver, Pippin would get seeds from some of the people in his large network of friends and give them to Mr. Weaver's grandfather in exchange for some of his bees, which Pippin would use to give himself honeybee stings in order to counter the pain of his miseries. So it is not difficult to see how Horace Pippin would have seen this type of a reaction to a bee as an extreme overreaction.


Brush stroke style: When this flying insect is viewed under enhanced magnification, with a color video magnifier, an amazing amount of detail in the flying insect becomes apparent. Under this type of magnification, the insect seems to reveal more aspects of a wasp than it does of a bee. But what becomes amazingly apparent is the artist's high level of skill in applying his brush strokes. When measured, the abdomen of this insect is approximately 3/32 of an inch long. With this type of magnification one can see that the artist has used at least six, and perhaps as many as twelve or more, brush strokes to create the insect's abdomen. There are four distinct lines that run from the front to the rear of the insect's abdomen, some of those lines appearing as though they may have been created with multiple brush strokes. Nearer to the end of the insect's abdomen, the artist has added one or two more brush strokes between the lines. Then he has applied a single brush stroke, in the shape of an upside down tear, where all the lines come together at the rear of the insect's abdomen. That brush stroke starts out in a bulbous shape, quickly tapers down and then slightly arcs back to a point to form the insect's stinger. It is known that Horace Pippin often created elements in his works with pencil first, then brought them to life with his tiny brush strokes of color. So it is with this piece. The artist appears to have created the background first, then added the element of the man with pencil before bringing it to life with his tiny brush strokes. But the element of the insect appears to have been formed with nothing more than the brush strokes. Seeing the level of brush stroke skill displayed by the artist in the formation of the insect, it is easy to understand how his small brush strokes of varying colors, used to enhance the main color of an area, can go with little notice at first. They are often so subtle that they almost appear to melt into the main color of the area.


Even under more minimal magnification, a closer view of the man's mouth and beard begins to reveal an array of different colored, tiny brush strokes, as in the photo above.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 25x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

When viewed with approximately 25x power magnification, one can see how the artist has used tiny strokes of reddish paint in the beard. These strokes appear to have been applied to the beard, near where it meets the chin, while the white paint of the beard was still wet. The artist appears to have applied these strokes with just enough pressure to create a slight color mixing effect, giving these strokes more of a pinkish color. A couple of these strokes appear to have been applied with much less pressure and as a result appear to lay more on top of the white, leaving them retaining more of their reddish color. Tiny strokes of other colors have also been added to achieve the artist's desired effect. Robert Carlen, of Philadelphia, was Pippin's dealer. It appears that he tried to help Pippin out by getting him commercial work from time to time. Carlen has remarked on how he took Pippin to meetings with Vogue Magazine and that they wanted Pippin to paint a very large canvas piece for them. Carlen commented that he told the Vogue people that Pippin couldn't do that, that he was a cripple who painted with very small brush strokes and therefore it took him a long time to complete a piece. There is certainly truth in Carlen's remarks but, when one looks closely at the artist's work, one begins to get the sense that Horace Pippin added each tiny brush stroke, of elemental detailing and color, with great patience and care. The exact manner and application of every brush stroke appears to derive as a result of a conscious decision by the artist, just as much, if not more, than as by a physical limitation of the artist.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 20x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

The palette: Horace Pippin's work has often been described as having large areas of color. But when one looks closely at the artist's work, one can see that many of his areas of color are actually areas of "colors". Pippin would often apply very small, tiny brush strokes of different colors to manipulate and enhance particular areas of color in his works. As previously mentioned, many have commented on Pippin's fiery reds, his glowing whites and his deep, dark greens. What has not been commented on very much, is his wonderful use of his soft purples to enhance shadowing and tonal shading in many of his works. Although the artist has not used any of his dark greens in this piece, he has used his noted fiery reds and glowing whites to create the work. In this piece, the artist has used his reds in three basic areas, the man's scarf/necktie, the man's mouth and in the sunset. In all three areas the artist has used multiple tones of red to create his desired effects, with some of those areas using soft purples to enhance the reds. The artist appears to have used two different soft purples in this piece, one having a very light, almost pastel lavender tint and the other with a darker, bluish tint.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 20x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

In both the man's necktie and mouth, one can see how the artist has used two shades of soft purple to enhance some of the red, although to a lesser extent in the necktie.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 25x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

In the man's mouth it becomes apparent that the artist has applied the soft purples in sort of a wash manner, over many of the colors used to create the mouth, not just the reds, in order to add tonal depth to the underlying color. This results in the purple taking on slightly darker or lighter aspects depending on the color below it. When the mouth is viewed with this type of enhanced magnification, it begins to take on the appearence of something altogether different. One can start to see how it resembles more of a stylized, blood soaked, battlefield with the teeth looking more like explosions from artillery.


The reds in the sunset range from much lighter, almost salmon reds, near the outer areas, to much darker reds in the central area. Here again the artist has used a soft purple to enhance the area, but he has added a slightly different technique in its application.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 30x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

In this area the artist has used less of the wash over technique. He appears to have followed the natural high and low areas, created by the weave of the canvas, in applying his tiny brush strokes of color. Much of his soft purple has been carefully applied in the lower ruts of the canvas, leaving the high ridges of the canvas dominated by the reds, particularly in the central area of the sunset, resulting in the effect of the purple seeming to illuminate from within or behind the reds.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 15x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

Horace Pippin has used his soft purples, throughout a large percentage of his works, to enhance many different aspects of his compositions. In the painting, Harmonizing, it appears that he has used it to enhance the faces of the singers, in a similar manner as he has done to the man's face in this piece. Once again the artist has applied the purple, with a sort of wash over technique, on top of the darker colors of the man's face. The artist has continued the use of this technique in areas of the man's beard, in many portions of his hat, parts of his clothing and as a shading effect in a large portion of the area below the man, as well as to the man's left side. Horace Pippin used his soft purples to enhance not only a wide range of colors in his works, but also to enhance a wide range of elements in them. In his piece, A Chester County Art Critic - Portrait of Christain Brinton, the artist has used his soft purples in a prominent manner in Dr. Brinton's hand. In his work, Domino Players, he has used it in the walls as well as in numerous other elements in the composition. Time and again, the artist's soft purples can be seen in a multitude of pieces throughout the body of his work, often being used with the same type of techniques.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 20x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

Pippin's high level of skill, with the use of the color white, becomes very apparent when one looks at the man's eyes in this piece. Under closer magnification of the man's right eye, one can see that the white of the eye actually consists of more soft purples than of the color white.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 30x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

The artist has used small brush strokes of soft purples, applied in a slightly thicker manner, as a base color for the white of the eye. Then he has added several small, thin brush strokes of white on top of that along with several small dabs of thicker white paint. One of the small dabs of white paint results in creating the impression of the corner of the man's eye. Two other dabs of white paint result in creating the impression of the gleam in the man's eye, along the side of his pupil. Under close magnification, it is difficult to see how the usage of such a minimal amount of white could result in giving the impression of the white in the man's eye. But when the piece is viewed without enhanced magnification, one can see that is exactly what it does.


Close-up Horace Pippin Oil Painting
A photographic image of the screen output from a video
magnifier, set at approximately 20x power magnification.
This process can cause a very slight alteration in the true
tonality of some colors but, for the most part, these colors
are very close to their true shades.

Horace Pippin was a skilled master in the use of color and that skill is just another aspect of his art which he learned through his experiences on the battlefields of World War I Europe.


Other Aspects On The Front


The Monogram: Just above what would be the man's left shoulder is a monogram, as can be seen in the photo above. Under closer magnification, one can see that the artist has painted "H.E.P.". In doing a search for Horace Pippin's full name, including his middle name, one will find that there appears to be nowhere or anyone who has referenced the artist by his middle name. The State Historical Marker at the site of Pippin's house in West Chester does not have it. The information on his grave marker does not include it. Nobody seems to know what Horace Pippin's middle name was; it almost appears as if it has been lost to history. Although this piece doesn't tell us what the artist's middle name was, it does leave us with the strong possibility that Horace Pippin's middle name began with the letter "E". As of the writing of this presentation, the writer knows of no example where the artist has used a monogram in conjunction with a signature. But there is a piece of the artist's work, titled Losing The Way, that can be viewed online in a small digital version. In that image one can see that the artist has titled the piece along the lower left edge and signed it along the lower right edge. Just to the left of the signature, there are some marks that appear to look like smaller letters with the possibility of being an H and a P. These may be nothing more than small scratches in the piece, but it would be interesting to see the piece up close.


The Signature: This piece is signed "H. PIPPIN" in the lower right corner.


The Date: The piece is dated "1924" just below the signature. For decades it has been commented that Horace Pippin's first completed oil painting was The End Of The War: Starting Home. Most of those comments have agreed that it took the artist three years to create this piece. But the actual time period for the creation of this piece has varied greatly depending on who was making the comments. Some have remarked that it was the late 1920s when Horace Pippin first began to create works by burning his pictures into wood with a hot poker and then filling them in with paint. They have gone on to comment that this process strengthened the artist's weakened arm, that was a result of his war wound, and that by 1928 he had started painting, The End Of The War: Starting Home, which he finished in 1930. Others have commented that he finished the piece in 1931 and still others have remarked that he started the piece in 1930, finishing it in 1933. In more recent years, there are those who have commented on this piece, not as the artist's "first completed oil painting", but as the artist's "first completed major oil painting". Even more recently, there are those who have commented that Horace Pippin first started to revive his interest in art during the early 1920s and that by the mid 1920s he had started painting oil paintings. There are also more recent comments which state that Horace Pippin's early works, as well as many of his writings, have been lost to us. Some of these comments can be seen on an internet site called Explore PA History, which is copyrighted by WIFT, Inc., a company that has PBS affiliated TV and radio stations in the Harrisburg, PA area. One of the pages on the site is dedicated to the Pennsylvania State Historical Marker, located at the house where Horace Pippin lived in West Chester. It is on that page where you will find comments on the history of the artist. This piece gives great credibility to some of these more recent comments on the artist's history. Horace Pippin even made comments, regarding a bulk of his earlier work which he destroyed, that appear to help support some of these more recent comments on his history. In a letter that the artist wrote, which was simply addressed My Dear Friends, Pippin comments on some one hundred scenes, dealing with his experiences in France, which he burned. Pippin does not say what medium these works were done in, nor does he say why he burned them, just that he had to. But it does stand to reason that the artist's actions in destroying this bulk of work, could very easily have been due to a psychological process that Pippin went through in coming to terms with his war experiences. Reason also dictates that it is most likely that the artist created this large bulk of work in the years proceeding his piece, The End Of The War: Starting Home, as by that time he seems to have come to terms with his war experiences.


Irregardless of the type of medium used to create these one hundred scenes of France, the large number of pieces in this body of work lends support, by the artist himself, to more recent comments that say the artist revived his interest in art at a much earlier time. The subject matter of all these works are scenes of Pippin's experiences in France. Even with medium like pencil and/or crayon, it is easy to see how it would have taken a man like Horace Pippin a very long time, perhaps years, to create a bulk of one hundred works, on a subject matter that dealt with the most difficult time in his life. In one of the notebooks that Pippin hand wrote, regarding his war recollections, he included about a half dozen pencil/crayon illustrations. These seem to have been meant by the artist as simple illustrations, in order to supply the reader with some minimal viewing experience of things he saw. Even in these simple illustrations one can see the high level of detail that Pippin always seems compelled to include. In some of the illustrations, he even uses some of his palette techniques by adding small, individual strokes of different crayon colors to enhance areas of color. Out of a body of one hundred works, it stands to reason that many of them would have been much larger and far more elaborate then these simple illustrations. It also stands to reason that each one of those types of works would have taken an artist like Horace Pippin a long time to complete.


In this piece, the number "four" in the date appears to have been made as an "open top four" at first. Then the artist appears to have added another slanted brush stroke in an attempt to change it to a "closed top four". In general it appears that Horace Pippin made a conscious decision, to make "closed top fours" on his dated pieces that contained the number. But in his daily life he appears to have most often used "open top fours". In notebooks that contain his war recollections, one can see pages that have numbers on them that were being added up. There are also pages of writing that were numbered in series. What one finds in these notebooks is a heavy usage of "open top fours". One can also see that there are at least a couple of works, by the artist, where he has used the "open top four". In the artist's work, Holy Mountain III 1945, it appears that he has made an "open top four". In his piece, Amish Letter Writer 1940, the artist has made an "open top four" at first and then has added another slanted brush stroke in an attempt to change it to a "closed top four", in much the same manner as he has done with this piece. Although the painting presented here may very well be the oldest known Horace Pippin oil painting, one must not draw the conclusion that this is, without question, the first Horace Pippin oil painting.


Title?: Just above and to the left of the signature, is some writing that has been painted in and runs at about a forty-five degree angle to the signature. This writing has been painted over with soft purple that appears to have been applied with the wash over technique. The writing appears to begin with the letters "Sc", with the next letter possibily being an "h". It is still unclear at this time what the rest of the letters are and if this is actually a title for the piece.

The Back

The back of this piece has a lot of writing on it. There are several obvious lines of writing near the top of the piece and several more obvious lines of writing near the bottom. It is still not clear what manner was used to apply the writing on the back of this piece, but what ever manner was used, it has left the writing as a deep impression in the backing board of the piece. This section will divide the writing on the back of the piece into two parts, one part being the writing near the top and the other part being the writing near the bottom.


The writing near the top: There appear to be four separate lines of writing near the top. The first line reads Horace Pippin, even thought areas of the backing board have deteriorated over some of the letters in Pippin. Just below that is another short line of writing. It is still unclear what this second line reads, but there is the possibility that this may actually be the title of the piece. One can see that near the end of this second line, there is something resembling the Roman character for the number three, minus its base line.


The third line contains much more writing, but as yet has still not been even partially deciphered. The last line near the top is very short and appears to be numbers. It appears that it could either be the numbers "20" or the numbers "200".


The writing near the bottom: There are four more lines of writing near the bottom of the piece. The first line appears as though it may read something to the effect of "Dr. Scoville", although that name is not completely clear. As one can see in the right photo above, many of the letters in this line appear to retain alot of pencil residue. Also, these letters do not seem to be impressed into the backing board as deeply as the other letters on the back.


The second line down reads "West Chester Pa." and the third line consists of the word "From", as can be seen in the photos above.


The bottom line reads "Dr. Christain Brinton", as can be seen in the photos above and in the photo just below.


Dr. Christain Brinton was an art critic and author who lived in the West Chester, Pa area. He was a decendent of a very old and affluent Pennsylvania Quaker family. There are many who have commented that it was he who discovered one of Pippin's paintings displayed in the window of a shoe repair shop. Others have commented that it was the noted painter and illustrator N. C. Wyeth, who also lived in the West Chester area, that first discovered Pippin's work and brought it to the attention of Christain Brinton. Still others have commented, that Pippin entered two of his paintings in the 1937 Chester County Art Association show, and that was where he was discovered by both N. C. Wyeth and Christain Brinton, who was president of the association. Regardless of who first discoverd Pippin's work, it seems that it was Dr. Christain Brinton who made the first major efforts to bring the artist to the attention of the art world. It was Brinton who used his connections to get four of Pippin's paintings into the 1938 show, Masters of Popular Painting, at the New York Museum of Modern Art. He was also the one who made the effort to find a dealer to represent the artist, and in 1940 he got the Bignou Gallery, in New York, to show some of Pippin's work. In commenting on those works, a Newsweek reporter said that Pippin is at his best when the subject is an intricate, Rousseau-like landscape. Regarding those same works, Robert Coates of The New Yorker has been qouted as having said, "Precise, sharply drawn, and minutely detailed, his works have decided charm and reveal, too, a kind of natural sophistication in the use of color that is at times surprising." Although Pippin's works, that were shown by Bignou Gallery, brought him attention and great praise, the Bignou did not sell any of his pieces. Eventually, Christain Brinton established a relationship for the artist with the Robert Carlen Gallery in Philadelphia, and later in 1940, Robert Carlen held a One Man Show for Pippin. Christain Brinton spent several years promoting Pippin's art and it stands to reason that he maitained an intimate friendship with the artist during that time. As is evident by the writing on the back of this piece, Dr. Christain Brinton was aware of Horace Pippin's earlier works.


Although it is not certain that the name on the back of this piece is Scoville, the name Scoville does surfface as a prominent family name in the West Chester area. The noted author, attorney and ornithologist, Samuel Scoville, Jr., lived in the West Chester area and was a member of its affluent society during the same time period as Christain Brinton. The commonalities between these two men are such, that it is very reasonable to think that they may have been acquainted or even had a close friendship with one another. The writer has not been able to find any references to Dr. Samuel Scoville, Jr. but, his son, William Scoville, worked in both psychiatry and neurosurgery.

Summary

As was stated in the beginning of this presentation, only the distinctive qualities of the artist Horace Pippin can be used to determine the authenticity of his paintings. When one compares the 1940 remarks, by Robert Coates of The New Yorker, regarding Pippin's distinctive qualities, one can see that those are exactly the same distinctive qualities in the painting presented here. The distinctive qualities of this painting are precise, sharply drawn, and minutely detailed. This work has decided charm, and it does reveal a natural sophistication in the use of color by the artist, that will surprise any observer. When the distinctive qualities of Horace Pippin are taken into consideration, it becomes apparent, and there can be no doubt, that this painting was indeed created by that unique artist - Horace Pippin.

All rights to all images are reserved by Joe Rea
All rights are reserved by Joe Rea
The reader is welcome to quote this presentation provided full acknowledgment of its origin is stated with any quotes used.