A Dentzel Carousel Rabbit
Giclée print on mounted canvas
Edition of 300 S/N
Image: 28″ x 22″
All my life I have loved folk art and almost any kind of “Americana.” Carousel figures fit into both categories, but the better carvings are generally a step or more above the average folk art carvings. Many of the carousel carvers were incredibly talented artists whose beautiful creations emerged from blocks of wood through the deftness of knife and chisel. (Today it would be done with computers.)
I have always painted the things that I like; I know that I have been very lucky in that I have made a career painting my favorite “stuff.” Recently I have fallen in love with carousel figures, so it is just by natural progression that they are now showing up in my paintings. Happily, two of the galleries that represent me do not tell me what to paint; they just want good paintings. When an artist loves his or her subjects, the paintings generally turn out well. Based on that, I am sure that I will be painting more carousel animals. (I have started a rooster).
One of my favorite carousel makers is Gustav Dentzel, a German immigrant whose trade name was G.A. Dentzel Steam and Horsepower Caroussell (sic) Builder, which later became the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The rabbit in my painting was carved by one of Dentzel’s most talented carvers, Salvatore Cernigliaro, a Sicilian immigrant known as “Cherni.” He was one of the pioneers in the addition of other “menagerie” animals to carousels, rather than just horses. Some of Cherni’s figures now can bring $100,000 or more.
Several years ago I passed up a chance to trade some duck decoys from my collection for a carousel horse. As much as I love decoys, I kind of wish that I had traded for that horse.