VERY FINE JOHN NAIL (1853-1938) WINCHESTER, SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA CARVED AND PAINTED PICTURE FRAME, yellow pine, featuring fretwork scrolls and draped flags flanking a stylized shell, signed and inscribed to reverse "MADE BY / J. W. NAIL / 1929", retaining original polychrome surface. Dated 1929. 13 1/4" HOA x 9 1/4" WOA.
Catalogue Note: The following is from recent research by A. Nicholas Powers, Curator of Collections at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates is grateful for his generous contribution to the catalogue.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to German immigrants Johannes and Anna Barbara Kumerle Nagel, John Walter Nail (1854-1938) was a Winchester, Virginia, folk artist and carver. Nail migrated to the Shenandoah Valley sometime following the Civil War, marrying Julia V. Pingley in Frederick County, Virginia, in 1876. Around 1884, Nail opened his mercantile business, the "New York Racket," at 141 North Loudoun Street (also called Main Street) in Winchester. The New York Racket offered a variety of basic domestic goods as well as Victorian brick-a-brack, frames, and other forms designed, carved, and painted by Nail. Records confirm that Nail considered himself more an artist than merchant. The 1920 and 1930s censuses list Nail as a painter while his death certificate lists him as an artist and hand carver. Nail's 1938 obituary in the Richmond-Times Dispatch identified him as a scenic painter, wood-carver, and sculptor. Nail often carved his pieces from wood salvaged from the remains of Fort Loudoun, a French and Indian War-era fort in Winchester whose construction was overseen by a young George Washington. Nail was also civically engaged, carving mementos like keys to the city presented to queens of the Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival each May. Nail's surviving body of work is surprisingly large, including carved frames and shelves, sculptural figures, painted advertising pieces, plaques, keys, small furniture, and landscape paintings. His son, Frederick Grady "Tac" Nail (1890-1966) continued the family tradition of painting, often completing oil paintings after postcards and painting local scenes onto the lower glass panels of mantel clocks. Several members of the Nail family, like "Tac", received nicknames that doubled as puns of their surname.
Excellent overall condition with very minor surface wear.
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The important collection of H. Marshall Goodman Jr., Richmond, VA.