Advanced Search

The Toolmaker [alternate title 'The Blacksmith']

Not on view

The Toolmaker [alternate title 'The Blacksmith']

Artist: Jefferson David Chalfant (American, 1856 - 1931)

Date: 1907
Medium: Graphite on thin wove paper mounted with Beva 371 to mulberry tissue
Overall: 25 1/4 x 33 1/8in. (64.1 x 84.1cm)
Signed: lower left: title and signature
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 98.2
Label Text
The seemingly humble, pre-industrial subject depicted in this drawing belies the cosmopolitan sophistication of Chalfant's artistic training. After achieving a measure of fame for his illusionistic still life paintings in the manner of William Michael Harnett (1848-92), Chalfant traveled to Paris where, from 1890 to 1892, he studied at the renowned Academie Julian. After returning to the United State he began a series of genre paintings that reflect a nostalgia for the early American traditions of craftsmanship and manual labor--aspects of American life that were rapidly disappearing at the end of the 19th century due to industrialization and mechanization.

Chalfant's based this meticulously detailed drawing on a photograph of a blacksmith shop (private collection, Wilmington, Delaware), which was located near his studio in Wilmington, Delaware. He carefully reproduced the clutter of tools and equipment shown in the photograph but simplified the spatial arrangement of the photograph's composition to a certain degree. He made a separate drawing of the figure of the blacksmith (also in the MWPAI collection), the outline for which can be seen above the anvil. Both drawings emphasize the shape and placement of objects in spare at the expense of three dimensional shading and modeling. After completing this drawing Chalfant rubbed charcoal on the reverse and transferred the image to a canvas for a painting titled The Blacksmith, presently in a private collection.

December 2005
No known copyright restrictions.