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

<i>Scaling Down</i> by Frank Weston Benson
Lot # 312 - Scaling Down by Frank Weston Benson
Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951), 1917. Etching on paper from an edition of 28, signed l.l. and dated 17 l.r. in graphite, catalogue raisonné Paff 120; 4 x 3 in. (plate). > Item Details
Boehm <i>Hedgling Canada Warbler</i>
Lot # 419 - Boehm Hedgling Canada Warbler
American. A painted porcelain Boehm Hedgling Canada Warbler perched on a leafy branch responding to a Monarch butterfly on a circular base, signed Boehm on base, marked Boehm / Limited Edition / Hedgling Canada Warbler / 491 on bottom; ht. 8.5 in. > Item Details
Odd Fellows Coffin and Key
Lot # 206 - Odd Fellows Coffin and Key
American, probably Midwestern, ca 1900. An Oddfellows ceremonial coffin, painting red, and a wooden painted ceremonial key; coffin lg. 18.5, wd. 6.5, dp. 4.25 in, key lg. 15 in. > Item Details
Boehm <i>Goldfinches</i>
Lot # 401 - Boehm Goldfinches
American. A painted porcelain Boehm sculpture depicting Goldfinches perched on a flowering branch on a circular stepped base, signed Boehm on base, marked Boehm / Limited Edition / Goldfinches / 457 on bottom; ht. 11.5 in. > Item Details
German Carved Child's Chair
Lot # 369 - German Carved Child's Chair
German, 19th century. A child's chair with allover carving,  the pierced backrest carved as a standing bear with arms outstretched, and bears hugging tree trunks form the legs; seat ht. 10.25, oah 23 in.   > Item Details
Weathered Shorebird Decoys
Lot # 199 - Weathered Shorebird Decoys
American, late 19th-early 20th century. Three weathered Plover decoys, each carved and hand-painted, one with screw eyes, all unsigned; largest lg. 11.5 in. > Item Details
Maine Goose Neck Wrought Iron Andirons
Lot # 197 - Maine Goose Neck Wrought Iron Andirons
American, ca 1910. A pair of hand-wrought iron Maine goose neck andirons with swan and heart motifs; ht. 24.75, wd. 12, dp. 18 in. (each). > Item Details
Chinese Export Rose Medallion Lamps
Lot # 126 - Chinese Export Rose Medallion Lamps
Chinese Export, 20th century. A pair of rose medallion lamps with figures, florals and birds in reserves, both having a wooden base; vase ht. 17.25 in. > Item Details
Venetian Flower Girl by John Charles Arter
Lot # 364 - Venetian Flower Girl by John Charles Arter
John Charles Arter (American, 1860-1923), late 19th-early 20th century. Oil on canvas, a Venetian flower scene with girl, signed l.r.; 25 x 21.25 in. (sight). > Item Details
Edwardian Painted Arm Chairs
Lot # 104 - Edwardian Painted Arm Chairs
English, 19th century. A pair of Edwardian arm chairs with open-work slat back, and painted decoration, caned seat; oah. 34.5 in. > Item Details
Pair of George III Sterling Condiment Ladles
Lot # 7 - Pair of George III Sterling Condiment Ladles
English, 1776. A pair of English sterling silver condiment ladles with shell form bowls, hallmarked for London, dated 1776, and maker's mark T.C. for silversmith Thomas Chawner (w. 1763-1785); lg. 6.25 in., silver weight 3.05ozt. (95g). > Item Details
Federal Mahogany Inlaid Banquet Table
Lot # 172 - Federal Mahogany Inlaid Banquet Table
American, early  19th century. A Federal inlaid mahogany two-part banquet table, each demilune top with long drop leaf, above a conforming frieze, on square tapered legs; ht. 28.25, wd. 48, lg. 88 in. > Item Details
English Sterling Salver
Lot # 17 - English Sterling Salver
English, ca 1764. A sterling silver salver of circular form, with a scrolling and gadrooned border, the plateau engraved with a lion surrounded by a scrolling floral and shell cartouche, the whole raised on three claw and ball feet, marked on bottom for London, dated 1764, and with hallmark RR for R... > Item Details
George I Sterling Two-Handled Cup
Lot # 1 - George I Sterling Two-Handled Cup
English, ca 1731. A George I sterling silver two-handled footed cup with scroll handles, repoussé decoration, marked on bottom for London, dated 1731, and with indecipherable hallmark; ht. 6 in., silver wt. 14.17ozt (441g). > Item Details
French Barbizon Landscape
Lot # 379 - French Barbizon Landscape
Probably French, early 20th century. Oil on canvas and signed illegibly l.l.; 15 x 19 in. (sight). > Item Details
Circa 1849 English Pop-Up Poetry Valentine Collected by Esther Howland
Lot # 222 - Circa 1849 English Pop-Up Poetry Valentine Collected by Esther Howland
English, 19th century, ca 1849. Pop-up valentine with a paper lace border, a monochrome lithograph having a hand-colored floral bouquet at center between two verses of a poem is cut with a pop-up design with a pull string, revealing a second hand-colored lithograph underneath of two turtle dove... > 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
Chinese Export Pigeon Tureen
Lot # 121 - Chinese Export Pigeon Tureen
Chinese, 19th century.  A Chinese Export  pigeon tureen with pink roses on a red ground, having green and yellow wings,atop a blue and white nest, all with heightened gilding, unmarked; ht. 3.75, lg. 6.75 in.  > Item Details
Ca 1940 Mahal Rug
Lot # 457 - Ca 1940 Mahal Rug
Iranian, ca 1940. A Mahal rug, wool; 6 ft., 8 in. x 11 ft., 3 in., (80 in. x 135 in.; 203 cm x 343 cm). > Item Details
American Cut Glass Vase
Lot # 82 - American Cut Glass Vase
American, late 19th century.  A colorless cut glass vase with circular foot, probably by Dorflinger (active 1852-1921 in Pennsylvania), unmarked; ht. 14 in. > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20