Morris Henry Hobbs (1892 - 1967)
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans
Graphite on Paper, Float-Matted
9.5" x 13.5 "
An original pencil sketch of a very famous New Orleans building by the famous New Orleans artist: Morris Henry Hobbs. This is the oldest bar building in America, and one of the best bars in the French Quarter still today -- dark, murky, very New Orleans. I have included a photo of it as it looks today. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop has more stories than anyone could ever tell -- some true, some doubtful. But the true ones are very cool -- for example, it's a fact that poor Irish and Italian dockworkers used to stop by in the 1930's for a couple of shots of whiskey before going to their back-breaking, low-paid work. The Pirate Lafitte story? Nobody knows for sure. At any rate, a prize for a lover of New Orleans who is also a collector of serious art. Prints by Hobbs are valuable, but these originals are very much more so. Comes expensively floated in a triple-mat, ready to frame as you wish.
A very famous New Orleans artist, with TWO solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian and having work in a host of museums among many other honors.
Biography from The Artisfun Gallery:
Morris Henry Hobbs, etcher, engraver, painter, illustrator, woodcarver and teacher was born on January 1, 1892 in Rockford, Illinois. He studied drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago and with Ernest Dean, Clarissa Keith, and Ralph Fletcher Seymour, primarily illustrators. He later branched off into the study of architecture, and was identified with that profession for many years.
In 1921, several years after his return from overseas service with the American Expeditionary Force at which time he lost his hearing, he moved to Toledo, Ohio, and practiced architecture. He traveled throughout Europe, including, England, Belgium and France to draw, paint, and study etching. One of his small prints was accepted for an exhibition by the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, and his work began to appear here and there in exhibitions. This was in 1926 and 1927, when his first etchings and dry points were made. In 1930, after he returned to Europe to work and study, he made a series of plates of England, France and Brittany.
Early in his career he had the rare distinction of having two one-man exhibitions of his works at the Smithsonian Institution. Later, Hobbs was drawn to New Orleans in 1938 with plans for creating a series of small prints of the French Quarter and many of the historic buildings scattered thoughout the old section of New Orleans. He lived there for the remainder of his life. He formed the Society of Louisiana Etchers and was it's first president. Two summers were spent as a resident colonist at the McDowell Art Colony, Peterborough, N.H., where he started a series of etchings of the old Beacon Hill district of Boston.
By 1950, Hobbs has become acquainted with the tropical plant family known as Bromeliaceae and had built a small greenhouse at his country home in Mandeville, where he spent weekends photographing and sketching the plants. He was awarded first prize in 1953 by the Chicago Society of Etchers for his dry point entitled Vresia Splendens.
During his career, Morris Hobbs was known to have created many Architectural drawings; he painted nudes, landscapes and still life works, and made wood carvings. He worked in oil, watercolor, and pencil, as well as, being a master etcher and engraver. Hobbs taught etching for many years and many of his students went on to become famous artists in their own right.
He was a member of the New Orleans Art League (president emeritus), the Louisiana Society of Etchers, the Society of American Graphic Artist, the Society of American Etchers, the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Cleveland Print Makers, the Toledo Print Club, the National Arts Club, the Evanston Art Club, the Allied Illinois Society of Fine Art, the California Society of Etchers, the Southern Printmakers, the Northwest Printmakers, the Southern States Art League, the Boston Society of Independent Artists, the Mississippi Art Association, the MacDowell Art Colony, and the North Shore Art League.
Hobbs exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Evanston Art Club 1930 (prize), the Toledo Museum of Art 1930 (prize), 1931 (prize), 1936 (prize), the Southern States Art League (1941 (prize), and the Louisiana State Museum Memorial Exhibition 1986.
His work is represented in many public and private collections, including, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, University of New Orleans, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute, the New York Public Library, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the Mobile Museum of Art, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
Morris Henry Hobbs died at the Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, after a brief illness, on January 24, 1967.
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who In American Art
The Smithsonian Archives
Social Security Death Index
Times-Picayune Obituary, Jan. 25,1957-New Orleans
Historic New Orleans Collection, File
About the building, from Wikipedia:
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a historic structure at the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Most likely built as a house in the 1770s during the Spanish colonial period, it is one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans.
According to legend, the privateer Jean Lafitte, aka John Lafitte, owned a business here in the early 19th century. As with many things involving the Lafittes, including the possibility that they used the structure to plot illegal seizures and the sale of contraband, no documentation exists. (It was only after the Lafitte brothers were long gone that Jean's signature was found on a document, finally ascertaining how their family name was spelled: LAFFITE.)
It is purported to be one of the more haunted venues in the French Quarter. The name Blacksmith Shop may not be coincidental. Lafitte's associates may have operated a smithy here during the days of reliance upon horses, who had to be shod. Jean's older brother Pierre Lafitte was a blacksmith, and their associate Renato Beluche may have once owned this building.
The current business traces its roots to Roger 'Tom' Caplinger, who in the mid-1940s turned the old abandoned shop into Café Lafitte. The cafe became a popular night spot that attracted a bohemian clientele, including the gay community and celebrities like Noël Coward and Tennessee Williams. However, Caplinger never held clear title to the property and the building was sold in 1953. He soon opened a second cafe at the other end of the same block named Café Lafitte in Exile, which maintains that it is the oldest gay bar in the U.S.
The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970. It is a rare extant example of briquette-entre-poteaux construction.