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Peacock

ca. 1825
Origin: America, Connecticut (possibly)
Overall: 29 x 17 x 7in. (73.7 x 43.2 x 17.8cm)
Zinc, sheet iron, copper, and paint
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1972.806.2
A painted metal figure in the form of a peacock. The legs, feet, feathers on top of the head, hanging loops, and the supporting rib on the reverse of the tail are all sheet iron. Other portions are believed to be zinc. The bird stands on a rectangular shelf with a scalloped lower front edge. The tail is fanned out in an accordion pleat. The bird is soldered to the stand, and the pleats in the tail are soldered. A supporting strip of sheet iron has been soldered to the tail providing additional vertical support. The tail has also been reinforced with two arched pieces of heavy gauge copper alloy wire, which has been soldered to the tail in several areas. Two iron alloy hoops for hanging are visible at the top of the tail, and a central supporting bracket can be found inside the shelf portion. The tail and body are painted yellowish with black dots, the shelf is red with black decorations, and remnants of gilding can be found in some of the more sheltered areas.

Artist unidentified.
Label:The original use of this fanciful figure cannot be documented, but it is believed to have advertised the skills of a smith who worked in sheet metal. The shaping of the body and the wings, the cutting and fitting of the tail feathers, and the execution of the scallops on the front edge of the base all reflect a deft, experienced hand.
The base scallops recall the skirts on tables made in the Connecticut River Valley in the 1700s, tentatively supporting a Connecticut origin for this unusual, almost certainly unique piece.
Provenance:Found in Torrington, Conn., and acquired by Edith Gregor Halpert in 1937 [see n. 1]; Terry Dinetenfass, Inc., New York, NY.

n. 1: The object was published in THE MAGAZINE ANTIQUES (July 1939), p. 31, as belonging to Mrs. Dudley E. Waters and Mrs. Edith Gregor Halper; Mrs. Waters's role is undocumented. Might Halpert have bought the object from her, perhaps over time?
Mark(s):No
Inscription(s):No