Edith Parsons “Turtle Baby” Fountain

Value (2005) | $35,000 Retail$40,000 Retail

My mother, when she was growing up, used to go to the Cleveland Museum. And she loved The Turtle Baby. And when she married my father, they moved to Houston. And she had pictures throughout the house of The Turtle Baby when I was growing up. So my dad, on their 25th wedding anniversary, surprised us and said that we were going to New York for a visit. So we flew to New York, and my dad handed an address to the taxi cab driver. So we drove, thinking we were going to the hotel, but in turn, we stopped at a gallery. We all three went inside the gallery and there was The Turtle Baby draped. And they had an unveiling of it and he said, "Happy 25th wedding anniversary, Mama."

And what was her reaction?

She almost fainted.

Your father actually contacted the... Edith Parsons. ...dealer to have it commissioned in another cast. In 1959 it was?

I believe it was 1959.

Yeah. And you have that correspondence, which I looked at. And he paid $1,150 for it.

That's correct.

And plus 20 bucks to ship it to Houston. Edith Parsons was an American sculptor. She was born in the 1870s. She studied in New York at the Art Students League. And one of her teachers was Daniel Chester French, who was the famous sculptor of the Lincoln Monument in Washington. And she was one of a number of women artists at this time, in the teens and the '20s and '30s, who did outdoor sculpture. There was a great big building boom. A lot of people had country houses and they wanted these outdoor sculptures. And Parsons did this wonderful one called The Turtle Baby. She did one called The Duck Baby. She did one that was Frog Baby.

Frog Baby, I've seen that.

And they're all very similar in conception. You have this wonderful little girl, with this incredible, sort of ecstatic expression, grabbing each of these turtles by one foot. And then her glee is somehow also translated into the actual way her toes are raised here. And then you have the base is supported by turtles, and water spouts out. So was it set up in your house?

Outside. My mother and dad had an enclosed brick patio made with a fountain. And then when they passed away, I took it and...

And now you keep it indoors.

I've been keeping it indoors. Yeah.

Because it has been outside, it affects the value somewhat, but it's just a wonderful piece. It's one of the great examples of American 20th-century garden sculpture. If we had this in our shop, we would charge between $35,000 and $40,000 for it.

You're kidding.

No, not at all.

I knew I loved her.

Appraisal Details

Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, NY
Appraised value (2005)
$35,000 Retail$40,000 Retail
Houston, TX (July 16, 2005)
20th Century
December 19, 2011: We contacted appraiser Eric Silver for an updated appraisal of this object in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $35,000 - $40,000 (Unchanged)

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