Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Flea Market - Story #3 - Edward C. Caswell(1879-1963)

In January of 2001 I planed to visit Prague for the wedding ceremony of my brother-in-law and at the same time I'd like to use this opportunity to meet my dearest friend George who lived in Czech Republic at that time. So I was preoccupied with gift ideas - It had to be something what would connect US to Georgia or East Europe or both. With a vexation I pulled from my memory the last summer episode with a cast iron letter slot in art nouveau style. It had an annotation on it "Для Писемъ и Газетъ" (pre-1917 revolution writing in Russian "For Letters and Newspapers"). The guy (owner of the booth) wanted 20 bucks for it. Why I didn't buy it?!!!! It would make a great centerpiece for the collage. Well, those "would be/could be" could not help at all and I continued my treasure hunting weekend after weekend until... early in the morning I stopped by a small table with a suitcase on it full of drawings, a lot of drawings - most of them cityscape. I love drawings more than paintings. They show better without the final luster the artist's vision of the object. So, carefully going through and studding one by one all of them I started picking some signed Edward C. Caswell - streets of Barcelona, sketches of people in ethnic clothes... Prague?.. Prague!!!! Go back... Hey, That's Carpathian girls! Of cause I bought as many as I could afford (the price wasn't heap and the guy was not in a mood to bargain). So, I'd got Prague, George - Carpathian Girls.
And as always every single purchase on a flea market is a beginning of the years of the research.
Here we are - Edward C. Caswell (1879-1963) was a newspaper and book illustrator, who on occasion exhibited his work in art galleries. In the 1920s, he kept a studio in the Ovington Building in Brooklyn, and in subsequent decades, in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. He helped to establish annual outdoor art exhibitions in Greenwich Village.
He was born in New York City and from his earliest days, Edward C. Caswell showed a love for drawing, and although he had no academic training, he did, however, secure experience on a newspaper syndicate, beginning as an office boy and then illustrating for the newspapers and later on for book publishers.

As a boy he had a special interest in drawing out of doorships, old docks, country villages, trees, and even when he became a very busy illustrator of more popular subjects he always managed to find time to study the out of doors. About this work there has been nothing commercial. He did it because he loved it, and it gave him the opportunity to express himself in a different way. Actually it was his real seif-finding expression.
Then came the opportunity to do a travel book, and he traveled with the author, Ethel Hueston, making the sketches as they passed from town to town. The book was called "Coasting Down East," and in it Mr. Caswell found the occasion to put before the, public some of the work that he liked best.
Another interesting event in the life of Mr. Caswell was his association with Robert McBride, the publisher of the Travel Magazine and President of the National Travel Club of America. With him, Mr. Caswell traveled and did the illustrations of a number of European travel books, such as "Spanish Towns and People," "Romantic Czechoslovakia" and "The Hilltop Cities of Italy." All Mr. Caswell's work for these was done, standing on the streets.

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