Back when I first started unraveling the travels and works of Ralph Brownell Shead I came across this article in the Indianapolis Star dated January 8, 1935 (Elvis Presley’s Birthday).
So much has been rolling along since the beginning of the year it all deserves it’s own retelling, and will likely get one after I forget what all the things were. But, this one bears a share as soon as possible so it can be added to the Shead story at large that has somehow ended up my major secondary project in life, and a very rewarding one.
A couple years back I had the opportunity to get an early tour of the Navigating the West : George Caleb Bingham and the River on its stay at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. There is a little writeup on that exhibit and my first visit to the museum here. What fascinated me even more than getting to see Bingham’s sketches and art mostly all in one place was the inclusion of the giant panorama painting of a trip down the Mississippi River. I am still awed by this thing and it has its own in depth analysis here. It started down a tributary of my own dissertation work as I discovered more and more about this particular panorama and the genre of panoramas in general. They were ubiquitous in Antebellum America and traversed to and from England and Europe. They were full fanfares and had lectures and music accompanist for the full adventure effect.
There will not be any more information here than you can learn on Zdeněk Burian’s wikipedia page, but what I have done is compile as many of the loose plate copies from his works that they are selling on ebay and dropping them into a giant album of varying resolution. I have also ordered a couple of his books that haven’t been translated and was going to wait until the arrived to post, but they haven’t even shipped yet.
The conclusion of this painting’s 700 mile 20 year round trip is a fitting end to this series of my work and I feel like my summer projects have been finally completed.
If you have been following along, you will recognize the crescendo of this Shead story has taken over my posts and summer research. It is hard to think of anything else I could add to what I’ve discovered so far save just adding to his already herculean numbers of completed pieces of art. Following the magazine covers that were part of his enormous portfolio and utilizing the interlibrary loan services at my library I secured a few copies of the Specialty Salesman Magazine.
Several days after visiting with Ralph’s great nephew, Bill, he called me to say he had found a small watercolor study for one of the old museum dioramas and a few charcoal studies that Ralph had done as a student and others that were originals submitted as accompanying illustrations for short stories.
To continue from the end of the previous post, this will just highlight the largest painting completed by Ralph B. Shead. This Oklahoma Geologic Map is dated 1938, making it another in the line of WPA paintings.
For me, History is filled with people and things. I have never really indulged in the movements and theories and isms that seem to infect the past presently. For a historian this is a professional character defect, for me it is what brings history alive and allows us to find our connections to it. It is likely why I spent so much time learning archaeology and paleontology. I believe it is ultimately what lead me to the history of science so I could talk about all of that at once.
Continuing with the Scooby Doo theme here I get to update one of the most exciting stories that has happened since my time here. You remember my last lament of the missing murals? Well guess what isn’t “missing” anymore!