Archibald Willard Painting Exhibit at The Spirit of ’76 Museum

July 23, 2018

By Janet Dodrill

Visit The Spirit of ’76 Museum in Wellington, Ohio to see the special exhibit of 22 of Archibald Willard’s paintings, from Dan Zivko’s collection, in honor of town’s bicentennial and 100 years since the artist’s death, through October 2018.

Resources:

The Spirit of ’76 Museum Thespiritof76museum.org

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The Spirit of 76 Museum in Wellington Ohio

The Spirit of ’76 Museum in Wellington, Ohio.

Exhibit of 22 of Archibald Willard's paintings at The Spirit of '76 Museum through October 2018

Exhibit of 22 of Archibald Willard’s paintings at The Spirit of ’76 Museum through October 2018.

Spirit of '76 Statue at The Spirit of '76 Museum

Spirit of ’76 Statue at The Spirit of ’76 Museum.

Archibald M. Willard in his early 40s

Archibald M. Willard in his early 40s.

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The Spirit of ’76 Statue

June 16, 2018

By Janet Dodrill

Statue of Spirit of '76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of ’76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

An unusual object has been passed down in the family – a “Spirit of ’76” statue. I had know little about it, even after showing it to three local auction houses, until one day a couple months ago. I believed it had been given to my great-grandfather, Hugo M. Schmitz, by Archibald Willard, the Ohio artist who painted the Spirit of ’76. The two met in the late 1800s and both attended and exhibited at Cleveland’s Art Club, of which Willard was president.

The porcelain statue measures approximately 11″ W x 12″ H and is hand-painted.

Because of my mention of it in my 2/27/2017 blog post, my image of the statue shows up in a Google search for “spirit of 76 statue,” which may be how a woman in Texas came to contact me regarding her similar statue. What are the odds?

The Spirit of '76 statue owned by the Texas woman, who contacted me in April, 2018.

The Spirit of ’76 statue owned by the Texas woman, who contacted me in April, 2018.

The woman sent photos and provided a link to the Bedford Historical Society, in Bedford, Ohio (Archibald Willard’s birthplace), who apparently also owns a statue and has a web page about the manufacturer. The page states that the statue was manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company in 1926 (which became the Walker China company in 1942) of Bedford, Ohio. Her statue was almost identical to ours. And after a trip to the Bedford museum I was able to confirm that theirs was also the same. (I learned at the museum that Willard’s own father was the model for the center drummer figure.)

The Bedford Historical Society, in the historic former town hall building, Bedford, Ohio.

The Bedford Historical Society, in the historic former town hall building, Bedford, Ohio.

Additional information had been passed down to the Texas woman by her grandmother regarding her statue in a note which she shared with me. It said that Bailey-Walker China produced a limited edition of 100 of these statues, made of fine china, which sold for $40 a piece at the time, and some retailers offered them for $120. Some of the statues went to Europe.

However, now the idea that our statue had been given to my great-grandfather is in question because Archibald Willard died in 1918, eight years before the statue is known to have been produced. Was ours a prototype made years in advance of production? it is signed on the bottom, and the other two aren’t. That would explain things. Or was it given to my grandfather, Warren R. Schmitz, maybe by Mr. Willard’s family? Who acquired it from where, and when? These are questions from the past that are fun to unravel, as I continue to learn about it.

Spirit of '76 statue manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company, owned and on display at the Bedford Historical Society, which I visited in April, 2018.

Spirit of ’76 statue manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company, owned and on display at the Bedford Historical Society, which I visited in April, 2018.

The grandmother’s note also said that when those who possess the statue are known to each other it is hoped to cement a very warm and lasting friendship.

So far we know there are two in Ohio and one in Texas! Are there any more out there?

 

 

 

 

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Archibald Willard, Friend to Hugo Max Schmitz of Schmitz-Horning Co.

February 27, 2017

By Janet Dodrill

Hugo Max Schmitz I (late 1800s).  (Schmitz family archives)

Hugo Max Schmitz I (late 1800s). (Schmitz family archives)

It is believed that in the 1890s, a promising artist left his family and relatives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and made his way to Cleveland, perhaps attracted to its thriving art community. He was Hugo Max Schmitz (1867-1938), my great grandfather, and in his mid-30s. Hugo, of German descent, joined Cleveland’s Art Club (formerly know as The Bohemians) and attended regular drawing sessions in its location above City Hall, and participated in their exhibits and possibly traveled abroad with other artists.

President of the established Art Club (and also co-founder and trustee) at the time was notable northeast Ohio artist Archibald MacNeal Willard (1836-1918). He was best known for his painting of The Spirit of ’76. He was born in Bedford, Ohio and at the age of 17 moved to Wellington, Ohio. There is a museum in Wellington in his honor.

Photo portrait of Archibald Willard, restored (Schmitz family archives).

Photo portrait of Archibald Willard, restored (Schmitz family archives).

Archibald Willard was a prolific artist who worked in a variety of mediums and subject matters. He was a talented portrait artist as well as landscape artist.

In addition to the Wellington museum, several Cleveland museums carry his work including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland History Center/Western Reserve Historical Society. A dedicated plot just east of Cleveland City Hall is known as Willard Park.

A search in Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer archived newspaper articles, resulted in stories about Cleveland artists which included Archibald Willard and photos of him working in his studio.

Archibald MacNeal Willard in his studio (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 17, 1899, Several of Cleveland's Well Known Artists Seen At Work In Their Studios).

Archibald MacNeal Willard in his studio (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 17, 1899, Several of Cleveland’s Well Known Artists Seen At Work In Their Studios).

He had a friendship with Hugo, and gave him a portrait photo of himself, plus as a wedding gift in 1902 an original landscape oil painting, which resembles the area’s Chagrin River. In addition my great grandfather received a small statue of The Spirit of ’76 from Mr. Willard, which may be a one of a kind working prototype in porcelain by Stanway.

Hugo Max Schmitz co-founded the Schmitz-Horning Company in 1905, a well-regarded scenic wall paper and mural manufacturing firm, and was president of the company until 1938, when his son Warren Reynolds Schmitz ran it until the company’s closing around 1960.

Landscape oil painting by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Landscape oil painting by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of '76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of ’76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

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