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Figurine of a parrot

Object Name: Figurine
Date: 1865-1870
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Medium: Pine, paint
Dimensions: Overall: 5 1/2 x 2 7/8 x 2 3/8 in. ( 14 x 7.3 x 6 cm )
Place made: North America, United States
Description: Carved wooden parrot with folded wings and straight, cylindrical legs, on small domed oval base; body painted with spots of green, red and yellow on cream-colored ground; wings with vertical bands of red, yellow, green and black; yellow and red beak, yellow legs, and green base.
Credit Line: Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Object Number: 1937.1116
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This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937.

An untrained and prolific woodcarver, Wilhelm Schimmel was a German-born itinerant who worked during the late nineteenth century within the German and Anglo-Irish communities in rural Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Despite drunken behavior that often landed him in jail, Schimmel earned the support of local families, who gave him wood for whittling his animal figures. In addition to eagles, Schimmel’s favorite subjects were fanciful farm and domestic animals, which may have been influenced by the chalkware figures that were in wide circulation at the time. Schimmel shaped his figures from scavenged pieces of wood with a folding penknife, embellishing them by applying paint―usually greens, reds, whites, yellows, and black―over a thin ground of gesso-like material. He frequently used common household paints or leftover colors most likely received from sympathetic neighbors and hosts. The Nadelmans began acquiring Schimmel carvings in 1929.


Madge Farquhar Holstein, Great Neck, New York, 1929; The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, Riverdale, NY


Black, Mary C., "Make believe and make do: American children's toys," Antiques, December 1962, pp. 620-623.

Christensen, Erwin O., Early American Wood Carving. Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1952, pp. 104-105.

Christensen, Erwin O., The Index of American Design. New York, Macmillan, 1950, pp. 135-137.

Flower, Milton E., "Wilhelm Schimmel and Aaron Mountz wood carvers," [exhibition catalog], Williamsburg, Va. : Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection, 1965.

Lichten, Frances, Folk Art of Rural Pennsylvania. New York, C. Scribner's sons; London, C. Scribner's sons, ltd., 1946. p. 115.

Robacker, Earl F., "Pennsylvania German Wood Carvings," Antiques, June 1946, pp. 369-371.


"Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman," Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, NM, September 6–November 29, 2015; New-York Historical Society, May 20–August 21, 2016; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, September 17–December 31, 2016.