Framing Gustave Baumann’s Marionettes

Yesterday I posted about framing two pieces by the important American wood block printer Gustave Baumann (1881 – 1971), and had something to say about the artist’s evident passion for the unity of the arts—in particular the unity of pictorial art with architecture and carving—and the seal he often used linking the work of the hand with the work of the heart.

“Marionette out of San Ildefonso Church,” by Gustave Baumann

A Baumann print of his marionettes backstage

In that vein, I thought I’d post this Baumann work we framed a number of years ago demonstrating another way the artist exercised his powers as a wood carver. This print, “Marionette out of San Ildefonso Church,” shows his love of these wooden puppets, of which he made 65 for his daughter, Ann. In their living room, Baumann and his wife, Jane, put on big puppet shows for Ann, and during the Depression, to generate income, even took their show on the road. (A nice article about Baumann’s marionettes is here.)

The frame is a No. 16 —a plain flat with chamfered sight edge—at 2-1/2″ wide, in quartersawn white oak (Weathered Oak stain). The 9″ x 12″ print is framed close, but archivally with a gasket mat and u.v. glass. Simple as it is, I’m pleased with the harmony and the way the frame sustains the vernacular spirit of the picture and its subject.

The picture below of Ann delighting in a dragon marionette by her father is a window on the love that surrounded and framed Baumann’s work, and calls to mind another kind of harmony expressed perfectly by WR Lethaby:

Every work of art shows that it was made by a human being for a human being. Art is the humanity put into workmanship, the rest is slavery.

Baumann’s daughter Ann with dragon marionette made for her by her father.

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