Historic Hedgerow Theatre Collection of Wharton Esherick Works to be Auctioned at Freeman’s
If you're a fan of the iconic Wharton Esherick, this post is for you! For the first time, historical Hedgerow Theatre's Esherick collection will come to auction at Freeman's NEW 2400 Market Street location in Philadelphia. Proceeds from the sale go towards preserving the historic theatre, which was attended and beloved by Esherick's daughter, Mary.

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[EDIT: The Design Sale has been postponed until April 3 and will be held as an Online Only sale beginning at 10am EST. This sale will feature notable works by George Nakashima, Samuel Yellin and a selection of Lamps by Tiffany Studios.

Works by Wharton Esherick from the Hedgerow Theatre Collection will be offered in June, accompanied by a public exhibition. Exact dates to follow.]

Notable works from the historic Hedgerow Theatre by renowned American artist and woodworker Wharton Esherick will come to auction for the first time on March 31 at Freeman’s new 2400 Market Street location in Philadelphia. Representing decades of creative exchange between the master woodworker and the Theatre, this significant collection leads Freeman’s forthcoming Design auction.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit future preservation of Hedgerow Theatre and will assist them in fulfilling their mission as a professional theatre ensemble and theatre school as well as a cultural center—allowing them to continue their steadfast commitment to progress, education, and artistic excellence that has impacted countless cultural institutions and artists nationwide for nearly a century.

Detail of the "Thunder Table" showing Esherick's carving of the lead actors from Hedgerow's production of Thunder on the Left in 1929
Detail of the “Thunder Table” showing Esherick’s carving of the lead actors from Hedgerow’s production of Thunder on the Left in 1929

ESHERICK & HEDGEROW

Wharton Esherick (1887-1970), heralded as the “Dean of American Craftsmen” and among the vanguard of the Studio Furniture Movement, began working in wood at the close of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Although embracing the ideology that valued the hand-made over the industrially produced, he broke with the movement’s more traditional aesthetic, creating sculptural and cutting-edge forms. Esherick was introduced to the Hedgerow Theatre in nearby Rose Valley, Pennsylvania and to its founding Artistic Director Jasper Deeter (1893-1972) in 1923.

Esherick began designing pieces for the Hedgerow Theatre in exchange for his daughter’s acting lessons. Initially involved in set, costume and lighting design, Esherick went on to create woodblock posters for various productions and furniture for both the Theatre and nearby Hedgerow House, which served as the home to Theatre company members. Over the years, the Theatre’s Green Room housed many temporary and permanent works by Esherick, operating as an unofficial gallery and exhibition space for the artist.

Wharton Esherick's "Thunder Table" (1929), in situ in the Green Room at Hedgerow Theatre, 2020
Wharton Esherick’s “Thunder Table” (1929), in situ in the Green Room at Hedgerow Theatre, 2020

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

Leading the auction is the iconic “Thunder Table”, carved by Esherick in 1929 in celebration of the success of the Theatre’s production of Thunder on the Left in which his daughter Mary appeared. The table stands on two splayed and hinged legs; its top is composed of two long, found wooden boards, each with a perceptibly warped end. Having spent much of his time on the Theatre’s balcony sketching the various dancers and actors on stage, Esherick carved a minimalist curvilinear drawing of the play’s leading actors into one of the table’s ends. The “Thunder Table” has been on display in the Theatre’s Green Room for many years before which it had been in use by decades of actors and visitors.

Also on offer is the set of stairs Esherick built in the Theatre’s former lobby in the mid-1930s to create more room for the box office. This work is representative of his signature idiosyncratic staircases, with gently curving steps fanning out from a two-foot central column. Other examples of Esherick’s staircases are presently in the collections of the Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach, Florida; the Modernism Museum in Mount Dora, Florida; and the Wharton Esherick Museum in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Wharton Esherick crafted two spiral staircases for Hedgerow Theatre in the 1930s. The lobby staircase, shown here, remains extant. The other was lost in a fire at the Theatre in 1985
Wharton Esherick crafted two spiral staircases for Hedgerow Theatre in the 1930s. The lobby staircase, shown here, remains extant. The other was lost in a fire at the Theatre in 1985

AUCTION

March 31 | 10am

VIEWING
Friday, March 27: 10am-5pm
Saturday, March 28: 10am-5pm
Sunday, March 29: 10am-5pm
Monday, March 30: 10am-5pm
Tuesday, March 31: by appointment only

SPECIALIST
Tim Andreadis | Head of Department
tandreadis@freemansauction.com | 267-414-1215

[EDIT: The Design Sale has been postponed until April 3 and will be held as an Online Only sale beginning at 10am EST. This sale will feature notable works by George Nakashima, Samuel Yellin and a selection of Lamps by Tiffany Studios.

Works by Wharton Esherick from the Hedgerow Theatre Collection will be offered in June, accompanied by a public exhibition. Exact dates to follow.]

Tags

American, American Craftsmen, artist, auction house, balcony, Chester County, exhibition, falling water, Florida, freeman's, gallery, herdgerow theatre, historial theatre, mary esherick, Miami Beach, Modernism Museum, Mount Dora, professional theatre, Studio Furniture Movement, Thunder Table, Wharton Esherick Museum, Wharton Esherick., Wolfsonian-FIU, woodwork, woodworker

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