Marvin Cone (American, 1891-1964)
Old Timer, 1941
Signed "MARVIN CONE" l.l., identified on labels from the Carnegie Institute (see
N.B. below) affixed to the reverse, stamped "THE PFLEGER PAT./PAT. FEB'Y 2 1886" twice and inscribed "EXHIBITED AT METROPOLITAN MUSEUM...DAVENPORT IN ONE MAN SHOW...LOAN SHOW CEDAR RAPIDS-1950" in pencil and "A1738" in pen on the stretcher, and inscribed "A1738" in pen and "1385-609-2" in crayon on the frame reverse.
Oil on canvas, 16 x 38 1/8 in. (40.6 x 96.8 cm), framed.
Condition: Tears and surface abrasions, retouch, patch reinforcement.
Provenance: Acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Reginald B. Figge, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Naples, Florida; private collection by family descent.
Exhibitions: On the Bright Side [A Loan Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting & Sculpture], Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. February 9 to March 15, 1942, no. 9; Marvin D. Cone Exhibition-Works on Consignment, Macbeth Gallery, New York City, 1942; Paintings by Marvin D. Cone, Coe College, Stewart Memorial Art Gallery, Cedar Rapids, May 26 to June 1943, no. 3.; Art Exhibit [Featuring the works of Marvin Cone and His Students], Stewart Memorial Library, Coe College, June 3 to 7, 1945, no. 3; One-Man Show by Marvin Cone, Joslyn Memorial Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, October 1 to 31, 1945, no. 11; One-Man Show, Stewart Memorial Art Library, December 14, 1945; Exhibition of Paintings by Marvin D. Cone, Cedar Falls Art Gallery, Cedar Falls, October 6 to 27, 1946, no. 9; Paintings by Marvin D. Cone, Cedar Rapids Art Association, Cedar Rapids, April 13 to May 1, 1947, no. 15.; Exhibition of Paintings by Marvin D. Cone, Cedar Rapids Art Association, Cedar Rapids, 1949, no. 16 (as "Barn Painting").
Literature: "American Harvest." The Daily Iowan, November 2, 1941, p. 2 (illus.); "Cone Exhibit at Commencement." The Coe Cosmos, May 26, 1943, No. 30, p. 1; "Coe to Display Works by Cone and His Students." Cedar Rapids Gazette, May 30, 1943; "Cone Exhibits Paintings During Inauguration." The Coe Cosmos, December 15, 1945, No. 11, p. 1.; Joseph S. Czestochowski, Marvin D. Cone-Art as Self-Portrait, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 1990, no. 414.
N.B. This work will be included as no. 1941.006 in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work being compiled by Joseph Czestochowski and published by International Arts. We wish to thank him for his kind assistance with cataloguing the lot.
For Cone, the "Old Red Iowa Barn" was an archetype whose form he explored in the fullest. He sought to capture both its iconic qualities as "…long rambling types of things with lean-tos at each end" as well each barn's individual "personalities." (1). In this way, they are portraits as much as quintessential Iowan landscapes, and such anthropomorphic titles as Old Timer reflect this.
Cone based his barn paintings upon actual barns in Linn County beginning in the late 1930s, when many were already approaching one hundred years of age and in a state of decline. By 1960, Cone recognized their endangered status, lamenting, "I'd still paint good old Iowa barns if I could find one, but it seems like the farmers are all painting them white. In fact, the only barn I know of that's still standing since I painted it is somewhere around Toddville…and I haven't seen it for a number of years." (2) In this sense, Cone's barn paintings which he created primarily through the 1940s document Linn County's agricultural life in the face of modernization.
The present work was one of three submissions to the Directions in American Painting exhibit held October 23 to December 14, 1941 at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, but another work was ultimately selected. (3) Subsequently, the work was delivered to the William MacBeth Galleries for exhibition and lent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for their month-long show, On the Bright Side. (4)
Reginald B. Figge acquired the work after the March 1947 Davenport Municipal Art Gallery exhibit and likely before 1950. (5) Figge worked in finance as a member of the Chicago Stock Exchange, and as director of Bankers Dispatch Corporation, a multi-state armored transportation company. (6) He descended from the prominent Figge family of Swiss-Iowan bankers, and was the brother of V.O. Figge, founder of the Davenport Bank and Trust Company and benefactor to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.
1) "Marvin Cone-A Career of Guidance." The Cedar Rapids Gazette. May 29, 1960, pg. 6.
3) [Letter from Marvin Cone to Mr. John O'Connor at the Carnegie Institute, October 24, 1941]. Marvin Cone Papers, owned by Boston Public Library; microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel 1366, frame 188].
4) [Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibition pamphlet]. Marvin Cone Papers, owned by Boston Public Library; microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel 1366, frames 191, 1227].
5) [Letter from Elizabeth Moeller, Director of the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery to Marvin Cone, March 12, 1947]. Marvin Cone Papers, owned by Boston Public Library; microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel 1366, frame 311]. The letter names two potential buyers of Old Timer.
6) Display Ad 37, Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1948, p. 11; Display Ad 55, Chicago Tribune, November 13, 1964, p. C9.
Inscribed "OLD TIMER/ MARVIN CONE/ ARTIST/ CEDAR RAPIDS IOWA/ 1721 5th AVE S.E." in the artist's hand on the Carnegie Institute labels affixed to the reverse. Nine areas of tears and/or abrasions, with the largest tear to the canvas approx. 2 1/2 in. length to the u.l. quadrant, each tear with scotch tape to the reverse, one restored inverted T-shaped tear (approx. 1/2 x 1/2 in.) to the u.r. quadrant with canvas patch reinforcement to the reverse.