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. 

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

Early American Portrait Miniature on Ivory
Lot # 155 - Early American Portrait Miniature on Ivory
American, ca 1835.  Portrait of a woman, in red coral jewelry, painted on ivory; 5 x 4 in. (sight). > Item Details
Limoges Porcelain Fish Service
Lot # 50 - Limoges Porcelain Fish Service
French, late 19th century. A hand-painted porcelain fish service including an oval serving platter and six dishes each having a gilt rim with fish and flowers centering a scene of fish swimming in water, platter marked T&V / Limoges / France (for Tressemanes & Vogt Limoges Porcelain), plates... > Item Details
Southern Coin Silver Flatware
Lot # 28 - Southern Coin Silver Flatware
American, 19th century. An assembled group of twenty southern coin silver items, including eight teaspoons marked for James P. Barnes of Louisville, KY, six teaspoons marked for James Hyde of New Orleans, LA, two teaspoons marked for Charles A. Burnett of Alexandria, VA, one tablespoon marked for A.... > Item Details
Staffordshire Hen Tureens
Lot # 113 - Staffordshire Hen Tureens
English, 19th century. A pair of Staffordshire tureens each having a hen-shaped cover resting on a nest or basket in red and yellow, unmarked; ht. 3.5 in. > Item Details
Copeland Queen Victoria & Lord Nelson Commemorative Cups
Lot # 61 - Copeland Queen Victoria & Lord Nelson Commemorative Cups
British, early 20th century.  A pair of Copeland commemorative cups for Queen Victoria and Lord Nelson, each hand-painted with three handles and heightened gilding, the Lord Nelson cup marked Nelson Centenary / 1903 / Limited to 100 Copies / No.... > Item Details
Regency Teapot and Undertray
Lot # 14 - Regency Teapot and Undertray
London, ca 1800-1828.  An assembled sterling silver teapot and footed undertray, both marked for London, the teapot with CC for Clement Cheese (w. 1823-1830) and dated 1828, the undertray with illegible maker's marks and dated 1800; teapot ht. 6 in., silver wt. 16.55ozt (515g) (in... > Item Details
Rare Pleasant Hill Shaker Convenience Chair
Lot # 188 - Rare Pleasant Hill Shaker Convenience Chair
Kentucky, 19th century. A Shaker adult "convenience" chair, likely from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, predominately cherry with ladder back, hinged toilet seat, latching drawer, on square legs. One of only two known to exist, the other is pictured on page 121 of The Shaker Chair ... > Item Details
American School Still Life of Roses
Lot # 334 - American School Still Life of Roses
American School, 19th century.  Still life of five roses and a bowl with one rose fully open towards the viewer, and another fully open rose in the foreground, resting in the foreground, unsigned; 15 x 23.75 in. (sight). > Item Details
<i>Rushing Stream</i> by Carl Harold Nordstrom
Lot # 329 - Rushing Stream by Carl Harold Nordstrom
Carl Harold Nordstrom (Massachusetts, 1876-1934), 20th century. Oil on canvas, in vivid warm palette and probably a Massachusetts subject, signed l.l. and with plaque bearing title; 23 x 30 in. (sight). > Item Details
<i>Monterey Boats</i> by Impressionist Frank Myers
Lot # 432 - Monterey Boats by Impressionist Frank Myers
Frank Myers (American, 1899-1956), 20th century. Oil on canvas, depicting a Monterey harbor, signed l.r.; 21.5 x 27.5 in. (sight). On verso, a label remains, reading:  #449, Monterey Boats, painting in Oct. 1950.  Exhibited at Carmel Art Association, 1951. In addition, a label w... > Item Details
Autumn Landscape with Oak Tree and Deer by Francis Clark Brown
Lot # 231 - Autumn Landscape with Oak Tree and Deer by Francis Clark Brown
Francis Clark Brown (Indiana, 1908-1992), 20th century. Oil on canvas, signed l.r., inscribed on verso 1/2 mile south of park, A Mighty Oak; 24.5 x 29.5 in. (sight). An Indiana artist, Francis Brown frequently chose to paint rural Indiana subjects. > Item Details
Serab Rug
Lot # 458 - Serab Rug
Iranian, 20th century. Serab rug, wool; 3 ft. x 15 ft. (36 in. x 180 in., 91.44 cm x 457.2 cm). > Item Details
Egyptian Revival Clock Garniture
Lot # 362 - Egyptian Revival Clock Garniture
French, ca 19th century. An Egyptian Revival clock with two matching obelisks, unsigned, eight day time and strike, black slate and green onyx;  ht. 17 in.  > Item Details
English Pointers by F. Williamson
Lot # 72 - English Pointers by F. Williamson
F. Williamson (Probably British, 20th century).  Oil on canvas, signed and dated 12 l.l.; 17.5 x 29.5 in. (sight). > Item Details
<i>The Fishergirl</i> by P.F. Poole
Lot # 69 - The Fishergirl by P.F. Poole
Paul Falconer Poole (British, 1807-1879).  Oil on canvas in a gilt and gesso frame, signed P.F. Poole l.r., plaque on recto of frame inscribed "The Fishergirl" / P.F. Poole. R.A.; 29.25 x 24.25 in. (sight). > Item Details
Children at the Shore by Giuseppe Aureli
Lot # 383 - Children at the Shore by Giuseppe Aureli
Giuseppe Aureli (Italian, 1858-1929).  Watercolor on paper, signed and dated 1884 l.r.; 21 x 13.25 in. (sight). > Item Details
Early Madison, Indiana Landscape
Lot # 274 - Early Madison, Indiana Landscape
American (probably Indiana), ca 1860s.  Oil on canvas,  unsigned but identified on verso with inscription: [Illegible] of Madison, Ind./ May.; 11.25 x 28.5 in. (sight). Madison, Indiana is a quiet, well-preserved river town that today boasts 133 blocks (over 2000 structures) l... > Item Details
Frigast <i>Princess Fuschia</i> Sterling Flatware, Plus
Lot # 53 - Frigast Princess Fuschia Sterling Flatware, Plus
Danish, 20th century. A 105-piece sterling silver Princess Fuschia flatware set by Frigast including eight dinner knives, eight dinner forks, eight luncheon forks, eight cocktail forks, eight butter knives, eight soup spoons, twenty teaspoons, four serving spoons, one sugar spoon, one small meat for... > Item Details
English and Continental Porcelain Coffee Canns
Lot # 59 - English and Continental Porcelain Coffee Canns
English and Continental, late 18th-early 19th century. An assembled collection of twenty-seven hand-painted porcelain coffee canns, sixteen unmarked, two marked for Worcester (FBB), one marked for Royal Vienna, one marked Wedgwood, one marked for Minton, one marked for Spode, one marked Spode 1839, ... > 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
ITEMS 1-20 of 20