Exceptional Large Anna Pottery Frog-on-Face Inkwell w/ Political Messages, 1876

Summer 2023 Stoneware Auction

Lot #: 101

Price Realized: $27,600.00

($23,000 hammer, plus 20% buyer's premium)

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Summer 2023 Auction Catalog

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Exceptional Large-Sized Anna Pottery Frog-on-Face Inkwell with Cobalt Decoration, Inscribed "Reform 1876 / 1884 Reform / Same Old KroAker / Wind / By Anna Pottery," Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, Anna, IL, 1884, hand-modeled figure of a frog with swelled throat sac and elaborate incised and cobalt-highlighted details, seated on a circular inkwell decorated with an incised and cobalt-highlighted image of a frightened man's bust with applied nose and open mouth forming the opening to the well. Frog incised on his throat sac with the cobalt-highlighted word, "Wind," and across his chest with the slogan, "Same Old KroAker," Base incised on the front with the cobalt-highlighted inscriptions, "Reform 1876" and "1884 Reform," as well as signed on the reverse with the cobalt-highlighted signature, "By / Anna Pottery." This tour-de-force of ceramic folk sculpture expounds on the Kirkpatrick's classic frog inkwell form in a variety of ways. The frog is extraordinarily large in size, features unusually-detailed incised decoration, and includes an engorged throat sac, atypical of standardly-produced Anna frog inkwells. While most bases below the frog are fashioned in the form of a molded clamshell or a simple mound, the base of this example features outstanding incised and applied decoration in the form of a man's bust. As with so many other Anna pieces, this inkwell focuses on the corruption of politicians. The slogans incised on the front, "Reform / 1876" and "1884 / Reform," refer to the U.S. Presidential elections of 1876 and 1884, poking fun at the repeated strategy of politicians in declaring a need for change or "reform" in order to get elected. The incised inscription, "Same Old KroAker," on the frog follows this trope, degrading politicians into the image of a croaking frog that makes the same noise all of the time. The incised word, "Wind," on the frog's throat sac reiterates that politicians are just blowing hot air when they speak. Outside of the work of early Manhattan potters, this ingenious work--comical, provocative, and highly visual--ranks among the finest American stoneware inkwells that we have seen. Provenance: A fresh-to-the-market example, acquired by the consignor decades ago. Excellent, essentially as-made condition. H 4" ; Diam. (of base) 4 3/8".

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