Kim Bullock is particularly interested in finding pottery signed by Carl Ahrens, whether it has a Roycroft impression or not. She also recently became aware that Frances Edwin Elwell, Ahrens' sculpting teacher, did a bust of Ahrens in 1892. It was exhibited in both Chicago and Montreal in 1893, but appears to have disappeared after that. She would be delighted to see an image of it.
There are specific paintings that received press during Ahrens lifetime, and have yet to be located. Sometimes he wrote the title on the back of the frame, which may have been changed over the years. Available images are shown in the gallery below. If none are known, painting details are are simply listed.
This image of The Coming Storm is from an an April 1904 article about Ahrens from the magazine Brush and Pencil. It was likely painted in East Aurora, NY in the first few years of the 20th century. As of the printing of the article, the painting was owned by a Mr. F.D. Healy.
A photo of The Woods in March appeared in a Toronto newspaper called Saturday Night.
This image of The Woodcutters was taken from an April 1904 article on Ahrens from Brush and Pencil. It would have been painted in East Aurora, NY between 1900 and 1904. At the time the article ran, the work was for sale at the Macbeth Galleries in NYC.
There were two paintings of the same name. This was the earlier of the two. The later one belonged to Major-General Malcolm Mercer.
The Façade of the San Diego Mission was completed in the summer of 1906 as part of a commission for California author George Wharton James. Mr. James loaned it to the Smithsonian in 1909 as part of an exhibition. This photo of it also appeared in an article in the Toronto World on September 19th, 1909.
Santa Barbara Mission would have been rendered in the summer of 1906. It was not purchased by George Wharton James, though he had commissioned the piece. Instead, the painting was brought back to Canada with Ahrens and was later purchased by his patron, Malcolm S. Mercer. The last known record of this painting is a reproduction that appeared in a 1909 article in the Toronto World newspaper.
San Juan Capistrano Mission would have been rendered in the summer of 1906. It may have been purchased by author George Wharton James, as commissioned. The last known record of the work was a reproduction that appeared in a 1909 article of the Toronto World newspaper.
There are no known images of On Georgian Bay, but as Ahrens did so few paintings near a large body of water, the following description may be enough to help locate the painting. It was in a 1917 exhibition for the Roberts Art Gallery in Toronto (# 1 in the show). It is small and is said to be a "pretty sketch of northern lake scenery viewed through a screen of the woods." Sounds rather Group of Seven like, though this was before they formed.
A painting that meets this description has been found, though it sold under the name Leith Woods at auction. That title is written on the back of the frame, but it is entirely possible that Ahrens put this painting into a frame that had originally been used on another canvas.
On Georgian Bay is still listed as missing in case another one that meets this description turns up.
Leith Woods or On Georgian Bay?
The Mercer Collection was a group of 31 oils that Major-General Malcolm S. Mercer commissioned Ahrens to paint between the years 1908-1911. The collection was exhibited to the public in October of 1911 in the Public Reference Library (Toronto) and generated a lot of press.
Roughly half of the paintings have been located. For the rest, I have black and white images from the exhibition catalog so they can easily be identified. Click here to see paintings from the collection.
In a 1922 article in Saturday Night, the author described this oil painting by Carl Ahrens as a large canvas and said the following: "The drawing and modelling are splendid and in which the handling of russet leaves and sunlight is very beautiful." There are no known images of this painting, which will make it difficult to identify unless it is in its original frame with the title written on the back.
This oil painting by Ahrens was donated by the artist to the Canadian Red Cross during WWI. It was auctioned off and purchased by a Mrs. Warren, of Toronto, for $1800. No known images of this painting exist. Unless it is in the original frame, it may be difficult to identify. Perhaps there would be indications of the title and a lot number on the back.
This painting was not famous, but it was one of Ahrens' few seascapes, and it was one that Kim Bullock's grandmother, Chloris, dearly loved, so she wishes to find it for sentimental reasons. There are no known images but it was dated 1921, and Carl did not often date his paintings. It was painted in Rockport, MA, where they were living at the time. The painting is an oil - the auction listing says it is both on canvas and board, which sounds odd. It is 28.3 x 38.1 cm or just about 11 x 13 inches. It was sold at auction by Ritchies on 11-28-85.
The painting hung in the dining room of the Roycroft Inn for many years, at least into the late 1930's. One of Ahrens' granddaughters has seen this painting in person. She described it as follows: "As you looked at it you became aware of a steam engine hurtling at you out of the dark, but the canvas was almost totally filled with the hypnotizing light from the train's headlight." When she later returned to Roycroft with her daughter, the painting had disappeared. The Roycroft Inn has changed hands several times, and maybe someone along the way kept the painting.
Robert Ahrens told his daughter that when Carl painted this picture he became so engrossed in his work that he would not hear oncoming trains, and had to be physically removed from the tracks.
This painting is mentioned by name in Kim Bullock's upcoming novel.
Ahrens painted this oil sometime around 1890 in Toronto. He used his son, Robert, then about 18 months old, as a model. Robert's granddaughter has a black and white photo of the painting, and it shows Robert sitting on the ground next to a wooden shoe, with his arm in a pottery jug. Apparently as Ahrens painted this picture he became so engrossed that he didn't realize how long he made his son pose. Ahrens' first wife, Emily, discovered that Robert had fainted after a particularly long session, and she told Ahrens he must make plaster casts of the child's arms and work from that. Robert's granddaughter still has the wooden shoe, the jug, and the plaster casts.
For sentimental reasons, the descendants of Ahrens' first family would love to know what happened to this painting.
This painting by Ahrens appeared at an exhibition for the Palette Club in Toronto in January of 1894. The newspaper Saturday Night described the painting as "most striking in its misty landscape, vivid light in the sky, with a little red-headed girl who drives her geese”. No known images of this painting exist, but it is far outside the scope of his more typical work, so it would be easy to identify.
This painting was done in June of 1906 in San Gabriel, California. It is uncertain if it is an oil or a watercolor, and the size of the painting is unknown. It originally belonged to California author George Wharton James and was completed as part of a commission. James loaned the painting to the Smithsonian for an exhibition in 1909. After that there is no known record.
This painting would have been completed in the summer of 1906 as part of a commission for California author, George Wharton James. It is uncertain if the painting is an oil or a watercolor and the dimensions are unknown. Mr. James loaned the painting to the Smithsonian in 1909 as part of an exhibition. There are no known records of the work after that date. There is a possibility it remains in California.
No images of this painting exist, but there is a record of it in a review of an exhibition for the Roberts' Art Gallery in Toronto in March of 1917. This is what it says about the painting: In The Afterglow the evening miracle of sunset finds the sky irradiated with violet, saffron, blue, green, pink while the vivid landscape phased into the dark.
This oil painting was shown at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts exhibition in 1895 in Toronto. It was described by the newspaper Saturday Night as a small canvas "one of those yellow summer days when grass and tree and sky take on the color of the atmosphere."
In a 1922 "Saturday Night" article, the author had this to say of this oil painting: "Mr. Ahrens has suggested with wonderful delicacy and truth the slight chill of early autumn, even under sunlight." No known images of this canvas exist, which will make it difficult to locate unless it is still in the original frame and Ahrens had written the title on the back.