Black Figure in a Dancing Position


James Hertle
Black Rock, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, 1842 - 1877
Black Figure in a Dancing Position, c. 1865Polychrome wood
126.0 x 34.5 x 32.5 cm
Acquisition made possible with the assistance of a grant approved by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act and
the Volunteer Special Events Committee through Art Lottery '94, sponsored by
Nova Scotia Power Inc., 1993, and The Ondaatje Foundation, 1998

Folk sculpture in Nova Scotia grew out of utilitarian needs and the individual situations of the early settlers. By 1850, as Nova Scotian society began to take shape, prosperity brought with it a cultural resurgence and a Nova Scotian spirit. A fine example of folk art from this early period is James Hertle's Black Figure in a Dancing Position, c. 1865.

Hertle was a ship's carver at Williams' Shipyard in Dartmouth. He is known to have produced several ship's figureheads and other carvings while working there. This sculpture is the only located work of three known life-size figures included in a Halifax exhibition. The other figures were a Highlander and an Irishman in their national dress. This figure's black, yellow and red polychrome paint is original, and the position of the hands and feet indicate that the figure is beginning to perform a dance. One of the finest nineteenth-century carvings anywhere, it is a national treasure.

Shannon Parker
Curator of Collections
Tel 902 424 8457
Fax 902 424 0750

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