Augustus “Gus” Wilson’s “Standing Tiger” at Sotheby’s Auction in New York

Sotheby’s will present Augustus “Gus” Wilson’s “Standing Tiger” at its upcoming auction, ‘The History of Now: The Important American Folk Art Collection of David Teiger’ on January 20, 2019, in New York. The artworks from David Teiger’s collection will be sold to Benefit Teiger Foundation for the Support of Contemporary Art.


While commenting on the life and art of Wilson, Sotheby’s stated in their press release: “Augustus Wilson, known as Gus to his friends and neighbors, was an eccentric Maine boat builder, fisherman, and woodcarver, who also worked as a lighthouse keeper at Spring Point Light in South Portland, Maine from 1917 to 1934. This occupation left him with many free hours in which to whittle. He is best known for his imaginative decoys of mergansers, scoters, elders, and other sea ducks, many with turned or otherwise animated head positions. Besides carving the aquatic birds that lived near his home, which he sold to hunters throughout his adult life, he also carved life-sized standing songbirds, seagulls, and flying ducks with outspread wings, all of which were intended as household decorations. He roughed out the blocks of wood he carved with a hatchet, chisel, and hand plane, then whittled them into forms he invented as he went along with his Boy Scout pocket knife (once sculpting a large rattlesnake, which he subsequently nailed to his garage roof), and finishing them off with a coat of ready-at-hand automotive or boat paint.”


This art piece to be presented at the auction is a carved and polychromed pine with horsehair whiskers and is dated circa 1931. After Wilson created this piece, it went to Robert Laurent in Maine, from whom it was subsequently acquired by John Laurent and Nancy Laurent respectively, in Maine and later, Walters-Benisek Art and Antiques acquired this artwork in Northampton, Massachusetts.


“This is the largest of three big standing tigers that Wilson was inspired to create after seeing newspaper photos of Emyr, a massive tiger brought to Portland, Maine by the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1931. The noted sculptor and folk art collector Robert Laurent originally acquired all three tigers from Wilson. This commanding beast, which is arguably Wilson’s masterpiece, carved from salvaged railroad ties and telephone poles kept in the artist’s barn, is the last of the three to remain in private hands,” commented the auction house.


The pre-auction value of this artwork is estimated around USD 250,000 — USD 500,000.              

Founder: Louise Blouin


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