Wednesday, March 16, 2011


General comments:  Bob Scriver’s sculpture can be grouped into periods.  The earliest pieces (beginning in the Fifties) were in a smooth, detailed style.  He generally worked on the scale of an inch to a foot.  The animals from this time period were portraits of the game animals he shot to mount for the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife.   I see none of them here.  “Winter King” and “Herd Bull” often show up at auctions.  This early period, up to and including the Sixties, includes many of his finest Blackfeet portraits because a series was projected with the cooperation of the Blackfeet Tribal Council.  It never went through.  “No More Buffalo” was made for this group.  
He was often under pressure to be “looser” because it was thought to be more like Russell.  The rodeo pieces, large and rough and the most celebrated, came out of the commission to make an heroic portrait of Bill Linderman for the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.  
Late in life, Montana entrepreneurs would suggest subjects to Bob which they would buy with the rights to reproduce.  These were generally small and often animals, meant to be collectible.  They move through auctions constantly.
Much of the value of bronzes comes from tracing their provenance, which means who owned them from the time they were cast.  This is a safeguard against illegal copies, which are always a danger when dealing with objects that can replicated with a mold.  These bronzes are mostly from two estates.  Scriver bronzes tend not to move around very much except for a few that were cast in large numbers later in his career.  The bad side of this is that people don’t see the really fine ones.  The Montana Historical Society has the entire estate but has not been able to develop it.
Paul Masa was a Kalispell art wheeler-dealer who commissioned Bob to make small sculptures intended for resale.  High numbers of them were cast.  (The most elite people limit to ten or twenty copies -- at least in theory.)  They were not intended to be high end art.  They were cast by using the ceramic shell method which is much more inexpensive but not quite so high quality as Roman block casting which is what Bob Scriver’s own Bighorn Foundry used.
Marquita Maytag was a world-class explorer and an important patron of Bob’s.  She was a beautiful divorced redhead who traveled in and out of the reservation.  She was at one time the US Ambassador to Nepal.  Googling will give you interesting information.  She was living in Sun Valley, ID.  I’m sorry to realize she must be gone.
  1. 36. “To Ride a Bronc”  1 of 100,  Masa estate.
This is a smaller version of the large spectacular event bronzes.
  1. 36.  “Rodeo’s Classic Event”  28 of 100, Arrowhead Foundry,  Maytag estate.
The same is true of this one.
  1. 38.  “Price of a Scalp”  Powell Foundry, Maytag estate
This sculpture was originally commissioned by George Montgomery but was released for sale because of his divorce from Dinah Shore.
  1. 59.  Set of four game animals:  “Down the Ridge,” “High Country Buck,”  “On the Move,”  “September Whitetail.”  Masa estate
These are charming collectables.
  1. 59.  (Paired with an Ace Powell bronze of a child) “Ranch Fillies”  32/55,  Masa estate
  2. 59.  Lot of three:  “Steer #1 Special”  1974, “Colt” #12, “Enne Kaukee”,  Masa estate
“Enne Kaukee” means Buffalo Woman in Blackfeet.  She is meant to stand for the source and protection of life itself.  (“aukee” added to the end of a word means woman.  Enne is Buffalo.)
  1. 59.  Pair of reclining animals:  “Paul’s Bull” (Buffalo) 1/1000 and “Rex’s Ram” 1/100.
Paul is Paul Masa.  Rex would be Rex Brenneman, who is recently deceased.  Masa estate.
  1. 64.  “Good Boy, Bart” (The Bear and Doug Seus)  1992, Arrowhead Foundry, Maytag estate.
This is a portrait for which Seus and his tame Kodiak bear posed.  Bart became a big star because he made so many rousing adventure scenes possible.
  1. 81.  “Spring Storm”  1976,  33/35, Maytag estate
Cowboy with a newborn calf in front of him on horseback.
  1. 88.  “No More Buffalo”  1957, Maytag estate
This is a real coup for someone who’s paying attention.  There are many knockoff illegal copies of this intensely popular bronze, but the provenance here proves that it is original, probably cast at the Bighorn Foundry (I think I remember helping to cast it.) and bound to hold and increase in value.  See the small Proctor busts at the end of this post. 
  1. 88.  “Rangeland Kiss”  (colt and mare)  24/35, Masa estate
  2. 88.  “On the Trapline” 1977, Maytag estate
A trapper on snowshoes.
  1. 88.  “Buddies” (two horses)  13/50,  1977
  2. 94.  “Ace” 19/35  From Duane and Ivy Curtis in Bigfork, MT.  Direct from the artist to them and then to this auction.
This is another piece that is often illegally copies, sometimes garishly patined.  This provenance adds value.
  1. 97.  “Self-Portrait”  1977,  Maytag estate
Bob himself.  
  1. 97.  “Bust of CM Russell”  1966,  Maytag estate
This is taken from an intermediate full-length portrait of CMR in which he stands with his thumbs in his sash.  It was meant to be a better version than the portrait that Bob submitted to the contest for a statue in the Hall of Bronze in Washington, DC, but it was not the definitive statue that stands on the grounds of the CMRussell Museum.
  1. 98.  “Captain Lewis & Our  Dog Scannon”  18/150, 1976, Arrowhead Foundry
This was a subset of the cluster of sculpts that came out of the heroic Lewis & Clark and Sacajawea bronze in Fort Benton and then the similar statue that drops Sacajawea but adds York and the Newfoundland, both belonging to Clark.  The dog’s name was thought at the time to be “Scannon,” but later was decided to be “Seaman.”  You might want to spell it carefully.
  1. 135.  “Prairie Buck,”  1957,  Maytag estate
A woman writer showed up in the shop in 1957 and asked Bob to make a portrait of a pronghorn antelope to be photographed for the cover of her book.  She never came   back.  This is the first of Scriver’s sculptures to be cast into bronze and always sold well.
  1. 135.  “The Protector of the Vital Ground” (grizz family group) 27/150, 1993, Maytag estate   “Vital Ground” is the name of Doug Seus’ project to save habitat for grizzlies.
 “Big Beaver”, 1917 #AP   This is Eddie Big Beaver, who also posed for Bob Scriver’s “No More Buffalo.”  There is entertaining material about him in Proctor’s autobiography, “Sculptor in Buckskin.”   #AP means that the casting was the artist’s proof and therefore excused from being numbered.  The notion comes more from print-making than bronze casting.
“Jackson Sundown”  1916  #AP

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