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    Exceptional and Important George Woodall for Thomas Webb & Sons Cameo Glass Vase: The Origin of Painting, circa 1887
    Signed and dated: G. Woodall, 1887
    9-1/2 inches (24.1 cm)


    Collection of Dr. Ernest H and Karin Rieger, Wichita, Kansas;
    Woody Auction, The Late Dr. Ernest Rieger Collection, Wichita, Kansas, May 29, 2014, lot 173;
    Collection of Dr. Jerry N. Black, Buckhannon, West Virginia;
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Ray and Lee Grover, English Cameo Glass, 1988, p. 262.
    Christopher Woodall Perry, The Cameo Glass of Thomas and George Woodall, 2000, p. 64.

    In the form of a ginger jar with low neck, high shoulders, and tapered body, The Origin of Painting vase features the opalescent white over dark plum color scheme for which the Woodall brothers became known. It features a depiction of the Maid of Corinth outlining the shadow of her lover cast on the wall by a torch held aloft by an encouraging Cupid and a nearby lantern. The scene, derived from a legend recorded by Pliny the Elder known as The Origin of Painting, was a popular subject among artists from the 18th century onward. The subject matter is particularly apt given Woodall's affinity for the interplay between light and shadow, translucence and opacity, in both cameo glass and photography, a medium Woodall utilized personally and professionally to document and advertise his works.

    The source of Woodall's The Origin of Painting is a painting by Giovanni Battista Cipriani (Italian, 1727-1785), likely via an etching by Louis Charles Ruotte (French, 1754-c. 1806) or Francesco Bartolozzi (Italian/British, 1727-1815). Woodall first executed the design in the form of a circular plaque, completed in 1884 and now held by the Corning Museum of Glass. The present example was the first of three vases executed by Woodall, completed in 1887, promptly sold, and eventually acquired by Dr. Ernest H. and Karin Rieger of Wichita, Kan., and then the late Dr. Jerry N. Black of Buckhannon, W.Va.

    Woodall's The Origin of Painting vase demonstrates a high level of fidelity to the etching by Ruotte, with exquisite detail, delicate shading - especially to the lover's shadow and the diaphanous fabrics draped on the figures and nearby table - and adeptly rendered perspective, reinforced by the addition of intersecting lines to the floor and the wall. Among the three extant examples, the level of detail and finish of the present example is paramount. The scene is bordered by vegetal motifs in scalloped arches below the neck and stylized, blade-like leaves to the foot, while the reverse is enlivened by an exuberant foliate scroll terminated by a jaguar's head.

    The artist engraved his signature and the date of completion - G. Woodall, 1887 - to the lower left corner of the scene, while the manufacturer etched THOMAS WEBB & SONS, GEM CAMEO to the underside. The GEM CAMEO mark, which refers to engraved gems that Roman and later cameo glass emulated, was reserved only for the firm's finest examples, of which The Origin of Painting vase is a singular triumph.

    Condition Report*: Overall good condition and excellent presentation, featuring cameo scene and decorative motifs rendered in exquisite detail with subtle shifts in depth, especially to shadow on the wall and the drapery on the figures and nearby table; primary scene and decorative scroll with jaguar's head to reverse in very good condition, with no fleabites observed; a few minor fleabites to rim and cameo bands on neck; one fleabite to cameo band below leaves near foot; a few scattered fine surface scratches and abrasions to body and minor shelf wear to underside.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2020
    4th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,687

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