Boy with Watering Can - does any one know who made him?
by Stephen Cone Weeks
Boy with Watering Can
I am a Canadian artist living in Düsseldorf, Germany. I make large drawings on glass.
My works depict a small stage-like still life set-up in my studio. At the moment I am doing pieces for an installation to open October 2016 in the Glass Museum of the Museum Kunstpalast here in Düsseldorf. The drawings for this show are based on a porcelain figure I found in Italy this summer: a boy, c. 6 inches high, in 18th Century dress, watering flowers with a watering-can.
This figure stands in the middle of the “stage” in my studio - I have given him a large part in the narration unfolding in the drawings, but where he come from remains a mystery. The man who sold me the figure knew nothing about it. I bought it because it seemed to be the next chapter in the story my works depict.
My drawings, which are on glass, are as fragile as the porcelain figure(s) they are based on. The stage itself is fragile; there are no stable walls, just hundreds of objects: wooden figures, mirrors (I hint at the boy’s narcissism), architectural elements (pillars, arches), bits of broken china, dead plants, shreds of old wall paper, rusty nails, a rusty metal spiral, an old baking tin.
And in the middle of this chaos: The Boy with the Watering Can.
The spout of the watering-can has broken off but this does not matter to me as I am really more interested in the figure as an object to draw. It was not expensive. I spent much more on four Meissen figurines I bought in 1990 to do drawings for a show I did in the Museum of the Manufactory in Meissen (“Amor in Fangeisen” by Heinrich Schwabe, model number: L 120, “Winter” from the allegorical group of the four seasons by Johann Joachim Kaendler, model number 2495 (61161), “Cupid and
a Water Fairy” by Otto Karl Wilhelm König, model number G148, and “Amor with Two Hearts” by Michael Victor Acier, model number G29). I called this show “Love, Trapped” after the figure by Heinrich Schwabe.
One of the things that fascinate me about porcelain figures is that they are on pedestals, which somehow gives them – or, rather, the stories (allegories) they tell – an importance which seems to contradict their littleness. In 1999 I did an Installation called “Pedestals”. Of the cheap figure of a mandolin player this piece was based on an art historian wrote: “This figure is presently one of the most important protagonists in (the artist’s) picture-scenes. Figurines like this have a strange hold on him. Whether they are expensive antique Meissen or made-in-Hong Kong is of no importance, although he does know exactly what he wants and has an eye for what he is looking for. The world of bric-à-brac and toys has caught his attention, but his way of seeing is obsessive and cryptic and robs the things of their innocence.”
This innocence is the central theme of the drawings I am currently working on. As I would like to use “the Boy with the Watering-Can” as the title for the show next October, I somehow feel the need to identify him! “The Boy with the Watering-Can” is my name for the figure. I could imagine that he is really called “Der Gärtner”, or “Il Giardiniere”, or “Spring”, or “Summer”, or something like that.
I have searched the internet up and down (also on this site) but thus far remain in the dark. The Figurine is finely worked and painted. Its blue mark isa bit blurry (see photographs), there is also a model number: 1009. Perhaps I am simply being blind and the answer is obvious…. Unfortunately it isn’t to me.
Can anyone help me here?
Stephen Cone Weeks