German-born Wilhelm Schimmel (1817–1890) was an itinerant carver who travelled throughout Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.Full description »
German-born Wilhelm Schimmel (1817–1890) was an itinerant carver who travelled throughout Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He is particularly known for his Habsburg-style eagles with outstretched wings. It is thought that Schimmel carved over 500 examples of these imperious birds, but he did not put his name to any of them. His unique carving style is nonetheless as distinctive as a signature. Schimmel hacked away at scavenged wood scraps with a jack-knife, gouging incised lines of cross-hatching across the head and body of his birds. On his larger eagles – such as this example – the unfurled wings were carved separately. A patchwork of cross-hatching gives texture to the back of the wings, while horizontal bands of jagged feathers decorate the underside. These components were later fixed to the central core and rough areas made smooth (probably by polishing with glass). Schimmel then coated his eagles with thin plaster before daubing them with whatever house paints were to hand.
'By all accounts, Schimmel was an irascible character, unpredictable in temperament with a surly disposition. Looking at our eagle’s cross expression, I wonder whether this reflected the mood Schimmel was in that particular day!' Susan Edgeworth, Receptionist, AMIB
From 1860 (around) to 1890 (around)