A Model and a Memory

Earlier this year, my boss dropped an interesting flier on my desk for me to investigate. It was advertising a show of the celebrated Detroit born, New York based photographer Judy Linn at the Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Ferndale, Michigan. The flier featured Linn’s photograph, “Man and Boat, July 12, 1972.”

judy-linn-ad-hilberry-gallery

Flier for Judy Linn’s show at the Hilberry Gallery featuring her photograph, “Man and Boat, July 12, 1972.”

Here on the first floor of Cranbrook House we have a remarkably similar model that belonged to the Booths. Model ship building was certainly a popular hobby throughout the twentieth century, but perhaps there was a Cranbrook connection between our ship and the one in the picture?

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Cranbrook’s Ship: Ye Triumphe Ship, Henry Brundage Culver, 1918. CEC1918.1

 

I reached out to Linn to find out more about her picture, and to see if she remembered anything about the man or the boat. Linn, who is perhaps best known for her photographs documenting New York’s music and art scene in the 1970s, informed me that from July 1972 to February 1973, she photographed for a small newspaper in southern Macomb County. It was part of the Detroit Area Weekly News (known colloquially as DAWN), and she took this picture at a local city hall where someone had just donated the ship.

I followed up with the city halls and libraries Ms. Linn thought it could have been (Warren, Roseville, or St. Clair Shores), but no one still has this ship hanging around. I was surprised at the amount of people who knew that there were ships “in the basement, somewhere” and I appreciated them taking time to go check and see if they were the boat in question (it was never a match).

Although I can’t make a connection between the boat in Linn’s photo and the one in Cranbrook House, the best part of this journey into the weeds was hearing Ms. Linn’s reflections of her time at Cranbrook. She shared with me this wonderful recollection, and agreed let me post it here:

“I was happy to get your email. I am very very fond of Cranbrook. When I was ten my mother got a Master’s degree in weaving form the Art Academy. I thought her fellow art students were the most extraordinary people on earth. I even copied their clothes for my paper dolls. If possible I wanted to be just like them. Later I realized it wasn’t just the art students. It was the submersion in a totally designed environment, complete down to the Saarinen designed fork in the Kingswood dining room. I loved it and I still love it.”

If you are in New York, check out Linn’s current show at the Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery, up through this weekend, and if you want to know more about Cranbrook’s boat, check out former Center Collections Fellow Stefanie Kae Dlugosz-Acton’s fascinating post!

-Kevin Adkisson, Center Collections Fellow

Lost and Found in a Sea of Cranbrook History

Ye Triumphe Ship

Ye Triumphe Ship, CEC 1918.1

Every day at the Center for Collections and Research brings new adventures and discoveries. During a visit to one of the storage spaces on Cranbrook’s campus, I stumbled upon a curious object, which inspired me to research it and its past. Like most things around here, the object has a great lineage throughout the campus with connections to George Booth, the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, and Cranbrook School.

The Ye Triumphe model ship was crafted by Henry Brundage Culver (1869-1946), and although it is a model, it is a large one: about 40 inches long and 32 inches high. George Gough Booth purchased the Ye Triumphe in September 1918 from the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The model, which was advertised in the Detroit Sunday News, had been on display in the window of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts shop during that same year.

Henry Brundage Culver worked as an attorney and also served as secretary for The Ship Model Society in New York. He participated in building ship models, and contributed to scholarship on the art of model-making. He produced several publications including Contemporary Scale Models of Vessels of the Seventeenth Century (1926) and The Book of Old Ships: Something of their Evolution and Romance (1924). In the introduction to Contemporary Scale Models Culver compares the art of ship-model building to that of painting.

The finest examples of these miniature vessels are, in the eyes of those best fitted to judge productions of the highest artistic quality, appealing in general composition, line, mass and technical execution, to the aesthetic susceptibilities of those, who have eyes to see, in a no less degree than do the best examples of pictorial art.”

­—Henry B. Culver, Contemporary Scale Models of Vessels of the Seventeenth Century, New York: Payson and Clarke Ltd.1926, pg.ix.

Originally, the ship was placed in the reception hall of Cranbrook House, and was later loaned by Booth for display in the library at Cranbrook School for Boys. Each of the photographs show the ship on display and its presence throughout Cranbrook.

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Cranbrook House reception hall, ca. 1920. Cranbrook Archives

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Cranbrook School for Boys, Library interior, ca. 1945. Cranbrook Archives.

The Ye Triumphe will be returning to view at the Cranbrook Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition The Cranbrook Hall of Wonders: Artworks, Objects, and Natural Curiosities opening November 23rd, 2014. Come and check out the Ye Triumphe and many other fabulous objects from across the Cranbrook campus including works from the Center for Collections and Research, Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Cranbrook Institute of Science!

—Stefanie Kae Dlugosz, Center for Collections and Research, Collections Fellow

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