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Olive Emslie

Olive Emslie

The National Portrait Gallery dates this small, eight inches tall, bust to 1922. If that date is correct the sculpture was done by Joe the first year he was in New York working in Lee Lawrie’s studio. The Gallery describes the bust as being made from terra cotta. It is signed by Joe. A National Academy of Design document states: “Submission, NA diploma presentation, March 7, 1949.” Ms. Emslie was born in 1906 and would have been sixteen years old in 1922.


Olive Emslie was an interior designer who worked on projects for various shopping centers and stores in America and Canada from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Emslie received a bachelor's degree in architecture from Cornell University and worked for various architectural and design firms, such as Levy and Levy, Ketchum Gina and Sharp, and Victor Gruen Associates, before opening her own practice in 1966. Emslie also owned a patent for her design of a fountain pen from her time as a product designer at Van Doren, Knowland and Schaldermundt.

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George Fraser

This appears to be one of Joe’s assigned projets while he was at the American Academy in Rome in the late 1920s. Somehow this image survived the 1931 fire that destroyed Joe’s first New York studio. There is currently a digital copy of this at the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Library at the American Academy in Rome. It’s labeled “Head Portrait Sculpture of Mr. Fraser”. Joe’s notes refer to Mr. Fraser as “George Fraser”. Fraser had a fellowship in architecture at the American Academy in Rome while Joe was a fellow at the Academy.

George Fraser
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Faun Garden Design

Joe’s lable on this photo is “Faun Garden Design”. We don’t know anything about this sculpture but it may have been done when he was at the American Academy in Rome in the mid to late 1920s. There are two ‘Faun’ entries in the American Academy’s collection and the date is between 1926 and 1929. That is when Joe was at the Academy.


Our Lady of the Rosary

Installed at Dominican University (Previously Rosary College), River Forest, Illinois in 1926.


The following is from the April 1927 Rosary College Eagle


Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii


The statue which bears the above title, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, was designed for Rosary College Chapel. The significance of the name is suggested symbolically by the exquisite crown on the head of the Virgin Queen, and by the rose in the hand of the Infant. The statue is the gift of Mrs. Mary Lynch, of Oak Park, Illinois, as a memorial to her husband. 


Its material, pierre de Lens, and its style are reminiscent of the Gothic influence which is so prevalent in old French cathedrals. The sculptor, Mr. Joseph Kiselewski, is an American. He executed the statue in Paris, while he was availing himself of the Paris prize of the Beaux Arts Institute. Mr. Kiselewski has since won the Prix de Rome, a scholarship of three years at the American Academy of Fine Arts in the Eternal City. 


An excerpt from Joe’s autobiography follows:


Romance and work don’t mix


“As time went on I made many friends among the Americans, Italians, and other nationalities. One friend worked for the American consul in Rome. As one of his duties he often had to meet Americans arriving in Rome among whom there sometimes were attractive young ladies. Occasionally he brought one or the other to our parties. One day he invited two charming girls for a double date and came with them to my studio. I asked my blind date where she was from. She was from the United States. From where in the United States? From Illinois. From where in Illinois? She was from River Forest. I wondered if she knew the Chapel of Rosary College. Of course she knew it. And did she remember the statue of the Madonna and Child in that Chapel? She not only remembered it, but she had been praying to it regularly for over two years. I showed her a photo of myself working on it. She was speechless and stared at me unbelievingly. She kept looking at me as if I were a saint. This coincidence ruined my evening. She was unable to disassociate me from the Madonna and would not even let me kiss her.”

Our Lady
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Our Lady Profile.jpg
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Egyptian Statuary

Egyptin Staturary

This post card image appears to be part of the publicity that was promised to winners of the Beaux Arts Prize, which Joe won in 1925. It is written as a type of post card press release and even includes directions to the typesetter, “slug” being a term used in setting hot lead type. The image on the front is of a young Joe sculpting a relief, perhaps as a project at the Beaux Arts School night school in New York. He took classes there while working in Lee Lawrie’s studio during the day.

The back side of the post card has the press release, which even includes a typographical error; Farm is spelled “Far”. It also is stamped by two photographers; Underwood & Underwood of New York and V. Forbin of Clamart, a Parisian suburb known for its peas. Victor Forbin worked as a photographer there when Joe was studying in Paris. The press release is dated June, 1925, but Joe’s autobiography says he didn’t leave for Paris until that fall. Who did take this photograph?

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