The "wily Yankee" was a popular mid-nineteenth-century stage character from American regional theater. With tricks of cunning and an exaggerated costume (top hat, wide striped pants), this stock player became the visual prototype for America's "Uncle Sam." The motif of the whittler relates to the character's role. Between acts, the Yankee remained on stage, whittled, and told parables. At times, he also flirted with both the women and men in the audience as he suggestively carved a stick at his crotch.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 29," May 21, 2001–September 23, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Old Faces and Places: American Photographs, 1845-1870," February 3, 2004–April 25, 2004.
Date: 1880–1900; made in style of early 17th centuryMedium: Poplar back frame with applied upper moldings in walnut, ebony, and ebonized pearwood. Half-lapped back frame. Niello; crystal and lapis lazulipanels with silver leaf beneath; some with dragon's-blood glaze. Frieze: niello-bordered panels with radius-ended centers and square corners.Accession: 1975.1.2292On view in:Not on view