This postcard shows a "Sand Artist at Work" in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The artist and date are unnamed, but it was not difficult to find more information about this artist and his sculpture. I discovered that both were well known. The date is less certain.
The artist's name was James Taylor. He is named and shown with a similar statue in the below article from The Strand Magazine, Volume 33, 1907. This certainly suggests a date of 1907. Thanks to Google, I discovered that this article is actually a copy of the beginning of a longer article that appeared in The Strand Magazine, Volume 18, 1899. Furthermore, sand sculptures like this were less ephemeral than the article implies.
The following is an excerpt from the 1899 article:
The variety of subjects which have sprung from the worker's fertile brain is astonishing. Hardly a thing happens in the world such as the blowing up of the Maine or the death of a noted man but what some reproduction of it may be made with sand. The photographs in this article show how varied Mr Taylor's talents are and how quick he is to seize upon the subject of momentary note for the interest of his countless onlookers. His last subject recently done expressly for this Magazine as shown by the illustration below touches we think the highest he has yet reached in sand art. The beautiful figure on the sand with its flowing drapery is really amazing in the naturalness of its lines. When we consider the haste with which it must have keen made and the material of which it is composed it is certainly a cause of admiration.The sculpture mentioned in the 1899 article was a recumbent woman in a somewhat different pose without the child. Although Taylor made many different sculptures, including contemporary subjects, the reclining woman with child must have been a favorite. An essay, Selling Sand & Sea, mentions that a sculpture of the reclining woman and child was reported in a January 1900 article and appeared on a 1900 postcard by the Detroit Photographic Company. An article, Castles in the Sand, in the Ocean Beach (California) Bulletin describes Taylor and his tour of California in 1908 and 1909 when he made a similar sculpture on Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California.:
“Cast Up By the Waves,” sometimes called “Cast Up By the Sea,” was a recurring piece for Taylor, who was born in 1860 and plied his trade as sand artist in the first decade of the 20th century. He did versions of “Cast Up” and similar creations in Long Beach, Asbury Park, N.J, and Atlantic City. Though the friezes of famous people rotated, they usually included Civil War generals. . . His signature reclined woman (often depicted clutching a child to her breast) usually acted as a centerpiece to his projects. The woman alone, her dress full of detailed folds and fabric-mimicking undulations, took Taylor about two hours to create. Taylor’s only tools were his hands – and a stick to finish off delicate details.
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