John Ruhl (1873-1940) always knew he wanted to be an artist. His hardworking German father—who ran a shoe shop—discouraged his son's dream at every turn. Instead, 14 year old John was compelled to take a clerkship in an insurance office. The next year, John began taking art classes at the Metropolitan Museum where he entered an art competition (unbeknownst to his parents). When John's sculpture won, his father was impressed with seeing his son's name in the newspaper as well as the $100 prize—more than a month's earnings in his shoe shop.
Ruhl was allowed to quit his job at the insurance company and apprentice himself to a prominent NY sculptor. He later joined the Piccirilli Brothers—one of the foremost marble sculptors in America. As part of their team, John Ruhl worked on the iconic marble lions in front of the New York Public Library and helped carve Daniel Chester French's Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial.
Ruhl began getting other important commissions including civic, commemorative and commercial work. From 1915 to 1940 (when he died), he was hired frequently to sculpt bookends for some of the leading manufacturers of the day (many of them in New York and New Jersey). This period coincided with "The Golden Age of Bookends"—and John Ruhl's work was the cream of the crop.
The bookends above, made in the 1920's or 1930's, were sculpted by John Ruhl and manufactured by Armor Bronze in New York City. They are "bronze-clad" and will bring a bit of whimsical erudition to your desk, bookshelf or mantelpiece. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
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