Monday, December 2, 2013

UPDATED Muddy Monday: Chestnuts Roasting

It's now after Thanksgiving, so I have no qualms about a Christmas carol snippet in the title. Today's main feature is a large mold that few have seen in person. It was sculpted for Hagen-Renaker, but rejected for production. It has been rehashed and even copied, and mass-produced in those iterations, but the original design has yet to be known beyond two castings that the artist decorated herself.

His name is Abu Farwa. One could translate the name a couple ways, but it is most likely a misspelling of the term "abo farwa", which is the fruit-nut of the chestnut tree. If you take the words abu and farwa separately, they mean "father" and a feminine name derived from the term for "fur". Just guessing by the real horse's coloring, the actual intended meaning is that of the chestnut nut.

UPDATE: Several helpful collectors with the book by Gladys Brown Edwards have informed me that she named the real Abu Farwa, and her translation was "Father of Chestnuts". Thank you all for writing!

UPDATE II: Sally Clow informed me that Abu Farwa's full sister, Rossletta, was a chestnut brindle. She was described as "gray" for lack of a better word for it, but was clearly not gray. As an adult horse, she was a bright chestnut brindle. 

One source says she was "sold without papers", while another says she was denied papers. Some say it was because the breeder did not want it the brindle traced back to them. If you look at photos of their dam, Rissletta, you'll notice she has the same white cap to her tail, like a rabicano. 

Model courtesy Elizabeth Bouras.
Photos by author.

I estimate that this 8" tall portrait was sculpted c. 1954- early 1955. Maureen had originally sculpted it for submission to Hagen-Renaker's Designer's Workshop line. Instead, the #B-621 Abu Farwa, a balking, turned-head pose, was selected for release in Fall 1955, and produced in non-portrait white-gray. When Maureen glazed her own copy of the approved balking Abu Farwa, she made him a chestnut portrait of the real horse (scroll down). An artist's vision is enduring!

Collectors know this prancing fellow as the Alternate Abu Farwa, or Large Abu Farwa. He does not have a mold number because he was never added to the HR moldbook. 

The real Abu Farwa was a very famous chestnut Arabian stallion. His influence in the Arabian breed in America is no small thing. Less well known is the fact that he was the sire of the original TV series' My Friend Flicka (registered as Wahana). I certainly don't want to make light of the real horse's importance, or make this a blog about horse breeding history, so I'm going to just focus on the portrait. There's so much more out there that I can't begin to address.

Model courtesy Elizabeth Bouras.
Photos by author.

This particular piece came from Maureen's own collection and transferred to a collector during her lifetime. This was not an estate sale item. When that collector sold the piece in February 1993, it moved to the East Coast. Almost a decade later later, the new owner flew it out with her to a California ceramic model horse show, where Maureen was a guest. The Abu's owner, Elizabeth Bouras, took this photo:

Maureen Love and her chestnut Abu Farwa
Bring Out Your Chinas show 2002.

Some of this horse's glaze features are seen on other horses by Maureen. The way she glazed the eyes, on her earliest pieces, was a bit stark between pupil, iris, and sclera. In some, the brown iris has brushstrokes and white showing through. It doesn't look like HR factory decoration.

Transparent brown iris.
Note this a much darker shade of brown than the HR factory iris color.

Another feature of the chestnut is the presence of hair detailing in the mane and tail. This was not done on HR models of the same era.

Model courtesy Elizabeth Bouras.
Photos by author.

Her matte glaze had a tendency to produce "crawl" in its surface, in deeper pooled areas or thickened "drip" areas. I have had the good fortune to handle a number of her personal custom glazed works, over the years, and each realistic matte one she glazed has this, including a DW Toulouse Goose. 

Model courtesy Brona Hicks.
Photos by author.

The glaze crawl, while unknown if it is unique to her glaze vat, has become a helpful confirmation in identifying pieces. I haven't found it on HR factory issue mattes of the same era.

Hey! Who is this other horse in the comparison photos?

This is the only other known example of the Alternate Abu Farwa, a dapple gray by Maureen.

Photos and model courtesy Jeanene Bernardin.
I had to brighten and contrast these old photo prints for this post. 

As rare as he is, you may find this horse very familiar. In 1994, HR produced a similar horse, a fraction of his size, as a direct-to-collectors limited edition. This 5.5" model was the second such offering for collectors, and was called "Encore". He was produced in (non-portrait) chestnut, white-gray, bay, and dapple gray. The dapple gray was a little more costly, because each one was to be dappled by Maureen, herself. None of the small Encore dapple grays come close to representing the Abu above. Laurilyn Burson produced Encore for HR, under contract.

This bay was one of Laurilyn's, a holdback because he had lines of slip pigment, almost like woodgraining. This can happen when the slip is not thoroughly blended, and the tint pigments swirl in layers, instead of a perfect unified color.

After HR released Encore, Renaker family members produced a similar design, sculpted by Jose Garcia, in their Loza Electrica factory in Mexico. This factory produced factory glazed runs, and even some bisques, for the collector market. Later, the Loza molds changed hands a few times. The bisque below dates to the third molds' owner, Kylee Demers.

Here you can see how the two small molds differentiate. The Loza is not an exact copy.

It is possible that there are more large Alternate Abu Farwa out there in the world. After all, Maureen had the mold and the technology to produce them. If you see or learn about any others, please share.

Roasted chestnuts, or, more like kiln-roasted... Happy Holidays!


Arnold, Jo Ellen. Pers. comm. Copy of letter from the February 1993 sale of a collection of horses glazed by Maureen Love. 

Clow, Sally. Pers. comm. January 2014.

Roller, Gayle. Hagen-Renaker: A Charlton Standard Catalogue. Third Edition. Pp. 71, 72, 582. The Charlton Press: Palm Harbor, FL, 2003.

1 comment:

  1. The name '"Abu Farwa" was in fact intended to mean "father of chestnuts," as his namer, Gladys Brown Edwards, rightly guessed he would sire many such, and that he did indeed. Or that is at least the story as i remember it.