Lot 276    

Joseph Hubert Diss Debar Sketchbook
11/17/2012 - Fall Fine and Decorative Art: Live Salesroom Auction
Joseph Hubert Diss Debar (American, born France, 1820-1905). A sketchbook with brown hardcover binding, embossed gold title, SKETCHES / J. H. D. D., including 61 total pages, 59 of which include over 250 sketches in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolors tipped in to front and back of most pages, with the majority labeled with descriptive titles all on sheets measuring 11.5 x 14.25 in. The images include original work by Debar and copies after other artists. Some of the images are loose within the sketchbook. Also included are several photographic reproductions of Debar’s work. An article about Debar in the December 1931 issue of The West Virginia Review is bound inside the front cover of sketchbook.

Debar was an accomplished artist, author, builder, pioneer and social leader. He was born in Strasbourg, Alsace, then a province of France, in 1820, into a prosperous family. He received a classical education in Strasbourg and Paris and was fluent in the French, German and English languages, and he trained as an artist under masters in Paris. Always the adventurer, Debar was not content to remain in his homeland. Instead, he set sail for America in hopes of shaping and guiding the untamed frontier. Sailing on the Cunard steamer, Britannia, from Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 1840s, Debar was delighted to find himself in the company of fellow traveler Charles Dickens, the British literary genius. The two developed a friendship on the journey and, as documented in Dickens’ American Notes, the author came to the young Frenchman’s aid during an unfortunate gambling episode. Holding Dickens in the greatest esteem, Debar painted an oil portrait of the author which was acquired by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Department of Archives and History. Debar’s additional images of Dickens are wonderfully accurate depictions of the confident young author.
 
Once in America, Debar moved from one major city to another before settling in what is now West Virginia. There he set up business, did surveying, acted as a land agent, and eventually became involved in the political fabric of the state. Ever the idealist, Debar sought to transform what would become the state of West Virginia from its exclusive and conservative aristocratic traditions to a booming center of commerce and trade. In 1863 the legislature appointed Debar to make drawings for a state seal and coat-of-arms. These designs became the official seal and coat-of-arms for the state when West Virginia came into the union.
 
In addition to his political and business contributions to the state, Debar, through his writings and sketches, became an important documentarian for West Virginia. He created countless sketches of the state’s noteworthy political figures and its rapidly developing landscape. In 1870, Debar wrote and illustrated The West Virginia Handbook and Immigrant’s Guide: A Sketch of the State of West Virginia. He remained in West Virginia until about 1875 when he left for Philadelphia, remaining there until his death in 1905.
 
Debar’s sketchbook is an exquisite documentation of American history. It provides a visual record of a growing nation at a pivotal point in history. The sketchbook is organized chronologically and is divided into sections based on geography. The sections are labeled Alsace / 1832-5Paris 1835-40In America / 1840In West Virginia / 1846-75The Civil War / 1861-65Kansas / 1880,Visit to Europe / 1881-2Supplementary / of various dates and places all in pencil. The Alsace section includes quaint landscape scenes, depictions of rural life, and prominent citizens such as military officers. The Paris section title page is adorned with a tranquil landscape watercolor. The images from Paris include sketches of Alexandre Dumas, the French writer, and Adolphe Thiers, the author of The History of the French Revolution.
 
Debar’s journey to America on the Britannia is illustrated in the American section. This section includes the two images of Charles Dickens, several watercolors of Niagara Falls with one notated Sketched from nature and finished on the spot with three poor watercolors borrowed from Mif Whitne, daughter of the proprietor of the Cataract House, Niaga [sic] Village, July 1840, and images of people of political and military importance, such as General Almonte and Professor Maroncelli, the Italian Patriot and fellow prisoner of Silvio Pellico.
 
During his many years in West Virginia, Debar recorded the landscape and its people. Rural and picturesque images are abundant in the West Virginia section. The sketch titled Going deer hunting on Tanner’s Fork, Henry Schmitt, The Artist, Pioneer Bill Patton, July 1846 is beautifully rendered and intricately detailed. This section includes images of the Honorable John S. Duncan and Major James M. Jackson, both of Clarksburg, in 1846, tipped in with additional sketches of political figures and a horse. (The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Department of Archives and History has a similar Debar sketch of Duncan and Jackson, also dated 1846). From life, Debar sketched Alexander Scott Withers, the author of Chronicles of Border Warfare, or, A History of the Settlement by the Whites, of north-western Virginia: and of the Indian wars and massacres, in that section of the state; with reflections, anecdotes, &c. (For a similar example see the collection of Debar sketches in the West Virginia Archives and History). This image is set amongst other small sketches including that of a Miami Indian copied from Withers’ collection.
 
The Civil War section includes a depiction of Abraham Lincoln at the Willard Hotel in Washington in June of 1864 (also in the collection of the West Virginia Archives and History). Debar’s Lincoln is similar to an image of Lincoln by Pierre Morand. Also in this section is an image of the first military rebel prisoners at Grafton, West Virginia in June of 1864 and one titled Members of the W.Va Legislature receiving doubtful news pending / The Battle of Gettysburg, 3rd July 1863.
 
The final sections of the sketchbook include additional images of Alsace, sketches of Albert Bierstadt, Charles Dickens and his wife and Ephraim Bee and a Centennial show card from the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Cowan’s is pleased to offer this sketchbook, a prize relic of the American past. For additional information see Boyd B. Stutler, “Joseph H. Diss Debar-Prophet, Colonizer” in The West Virginia Review (December, 1931): 154-56, 171. 


Condition:  
Wear to cover, binding is slightly loose, toning and foxing to some images, minor tears on some pages. Not all images are tipped in.
Sold: $12,000.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

don't miss

an opportunity to bid. You can't win if you're not in.

sign up to bid

what's it worth?

ask the experts

sell your item

start selling
North African Street by Paul Ashbrook
Lot # 390 - North African Street by Paul Ashbrook
Paul Ashbrook (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1867-1949), 20th century. Watercolor on paper, depicting a North African bazaar, figures prominent in foreground, signed l.l.; 16 x 12 in. (sight). > Item Details
Anglo-Indian Sterling Children's Cups
Lot # 16 - Anglo-Indian Sterling Children's Cups
Anglo-Indian, ca 1811-1855.  Two sterling silver children's cups by Hamilton & Co., one with gold wash interior, both marked H & Co. for Hamilton and Co., (w. 1811-1971 in Calcutta) and one sterling silver children's cup with hallmarks possibly for Lattey Brothers & Co., (w.... > Item Details
George III Sterling Grape Scissors
Lot # 13 - George III Sterling Grape Scissors
English, 1809. A pair of George III sterling silver gilt grape scissors hallmarked for London, dated 1809, and hallmarked WE / WF / WC for William Eley, William Fearn, and William Chawner (w. 1808-?); lg. 7.5 in., silver wt. 3.7ozt (115g). > Item Details
Turkish Oushak Rug
Lot # 462 - Turkish Oushak Rug
Turkish, ca 1995. An Oushak wool rug in overall design; 6 ft. x 4 ft., 10 in. ( 72 in. x 58 in.; 183 cm x 147 cm). > Item Details
<i>The Smith's Yard</i> by James Abbot McNeill Whistler
Lot # 265 - The Smith's Yard by James Abbot McNeill Whistler
James Abbot McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903).  1895, lithograph on paper, embossed stamp The Studio London l.r., catalogue raisonné W 88; 8.75 x 7.25 in. (plate). > Item Details
James Doull Tall Case Clock
Lot # 186 - James Doull Tall Case Clock
American (Charleston, Massachusetts), ca 1815-1820.  The tall cherry case with fretted pediment, brass capitols on bonnet columns, and those of the reeded quarter columns on the waist, has an inlaid door with the hold on small button feet. The case appears to be the work of a craftsman fam... > Item Details
Sheffield Epernge by Matthew Boulton
Lot # 19 - Sheffield Epernge by Matthew Boulton
Birmingham, ca 1800.  A Sheffield epergne by Matthey Boulton with five cut glass bowls by Matthew Boulton, the frame having acanthus leaves and lion-heads in relief, rising on four claw-feet, marked for Matthew Boulton; ht. 12.5 in.  > Item Details
Sunlit Corridor, Guanajuato by Eugenio Landesio
Lot # 387 - Sunlit Corridor, Guanajuato by Eugenio Landesio
Eugenio Landesio (Italian, 1809-1879). Oil on canvas, signed l.l. and dated 1863; 11.5 x 16.5 in. (sight). Includes an original hand-written label (in French), which identifies the scene as a corridor of the house of the Mine of Mellado in Guanajuato [Mexico]. On October 2, 1843 General Lopez ... > Item Details
Hunt Scene by John Fernely II
Lot # 71 - Hunt Scene by John Fernely II
John Fernely II (British, 1815-1862).  Oil on canvas, a hunt scene with mounted groom in profile and several riders in background, signed l.l. and dated 1858, unframed; 25 x 30 in. > Item Details
George II Sterling Coffee Pot
Lot # 5 - George II Sterling Coffee Pot
English, 18th century. A George II sterling silver coffee pot with tapering sides, ring foot, scrolled wooden handle, marked for London, with hallmark RI for Robert Jones I (w. 1778-?), date mark indecipherable; ht. 8 in. > Item Details
Boehm <i>Wood Thrushes</i>
Lot # 417 - Boehm Wood Thrushes
American.  A painted porcelain Boehm Wood Thrush mother with nest full of chicks, situated atop a flowering branch, signed Boehm, marked Boehm / Limited Edition / Wood Thrushes / 485 on bottom; ht. 15.5 in. > Item Details
Approaching Storm by M. Charles Rhinehart
Lot # 271 - Approaching Storm by M. Charles Rhinehart
M. Charles Rhinehart (American, b. 1930), 20th century. Oil on canvas, signed l.l.; 24 x 30 in. (sight). > Item Details
Edwardian Satinwood Inlaid Pembroke Table
Lot # 103 - Edwardian Satinwood Inlaid Pembroke Table
English, early 20th century. An Edwardian satinwood and mahogany Pembroke table with complex inlays, the rectangular top with a mahogany oval medallion above a frieze with drawer to one side and false drawer to other, raised on square inlaid tapered legs with brass casters; ht. 29, wd. 22.75, dp. 34... > Item Details
<i>Martin Brothers</i> Untitled Vessel ca 1880
Lot # 445 - Martin Brothers Untitled Vessel ca 1880
British, 19th century. Martin Brothers tall stoneware pitcher with modeled, incised and slip decoration in a leaf and branch design. Marked 7.11.SI, R. Martin, London & Southall; ht. 8.75, wd. 2.5in. > Item Details
Cincinnati Art-Carved Library Table
Lot # 249 - Cincinnati Art-Carved Library Table
American, Cincinnati, last quarter 19th century. A Cincinnati walnut library table of rectangular form, the table top border carved with sunflowers, the apron with sunflowers in high relief, the square legs carved with ivy against a stippled ground, having a lower shelf and turned feet; ht. 28.75, w... > Item Details
Egyptian Revival Silver Bowl
Lot # 26 - Egyptian Revival Silver Bowl
German, 19th century. An Egyptian revival silver bowl by Wülker, ornamented with sphinxes and Medusa heads within a border, gilt wash on interior, and raised on tripod base with acanthus leaves and lion paw feet, marked for Frankfurt, also struck WÜLKER on border and leg; ht. 6.25, dia. 4.... > Item Details
Silver Dollar Safe
Lot # 209 - Silver Dollar Safe
American, early 20th century. A black metal safe on steel casters, manufactured by the Silver Dollar Safe Company; ht. 22, wd. 14, dp. 16.5 in. > Item Details
George III Irish Sterling Onslow Pattern Soup Ladle, Plus
Lot # 11 - George III Irish Sterling Onslow Pattern Soup Ladle, Plus
Irish, 1812. An Irish sterling silver soup ladle with shell form bowl in Onslow pattern, hallmarked for Dublin, dated 1812, and partial maker's mark attributed to silversmith John Pittar (w. 1784-1825); lg. 11 in., silver wt. 3.95ozt (123g), PLUS an unidentified serving spoon with a similar patt... > Item Details
Royal Crown Derby Luncheon Plates
Lot # 60 - Royal Crown Derby Luncheon Plates
English, 19th Century.  Set of twelve Royal Crown Derby luncheon plates with scalloped edge and foliated band of decoration in a variation of the Imari theme, each impressed DERBY and marked Royal Crown Derby/England/Davis Collamore & Co. Ltd./Fifth Avenue & 37th St/New York > Item Details
Irish Tall Case Clock
Lot # 92 - Irish Tall Case Clock
Irish, ca 1770-1790s. An eight-day tall case clock in an inlaid mahogany case, having pendulum, weights, signed on dial R. Meares, Dublin, and signed Dollif Rollisson (working in Halton, Sheffield) to the arch; ht. 96 in.  > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: