Close Relations

Theobald--Close Relations.JPG

Dublin Core


Close Relations


A table, draped in eggshell cloth and situated in front of a curtain of the same color, holds a vase containing cherry blossoms, a tea cup, a decorated box—perhaps a tea chest?—and a small statue of a frog. Each of the items seems to evoke East Asian influences, such as the woman on the vase wearing a Japanese kimono, and the frog, a traditional symbol of good luck in Japan. The painting’s title alludes to myriad connections in the world, an encompassing family including but not limited to humans. A few blossoms on the table subtly remind us of temporal change.

About the Artist: Born in Baltimore, MD, Theobald was the eldest child of a famous eye surgeon at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. After attending college at that institution, where he was an artist for the school annual, he worked briefly as a caricaturist for the Baltimore Afternoon News (“Art News”). Early in Theobald’s career, he studied with André Castaigne, the popular French illustrator and painter. He was present to witness the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, sketching from Federal Hill and creating a lurid painting of fire and smoke that was described as “very appalling” in its sublime effect (“Picture”). Theobald began dividing his time betwen Baltimore and New York around 1900, his main interests to that point focused upon sporting art. In 1915, he married Elizabeth Sturtevant, a sculptor, and exhibited his work in venues like the Corcoran Gallery, the Beginning in the mid-1920s, the divided their time between Staten Island and Orlando, FL. They received permission from the Ringling Brothers to spend several months at the circus’s winter home in Sarasota, resulting in distinctive works like sculptural castings of “Miss Congo” the gorilla, and paintings of bareback riders, clowns on stilts, and “Elephant Being Manicured” (“Theobald Art”). 5 more images at FAP.

Sources Consulted: “Picture of the Great Fire,” Baltimore Sun 12 Mar. 1904: 6; “Art News from Baltimore,” American Art News 3.71 (18 Mar. 1905): 5; “Theobald Art Exhibitions on Display In New Showing of Art Association,” Orlando Sentinel 17 Mar. 1929: 15.


Theobald, Samuel, Jr., 1872-1956


Federal Art Project




Ritz, Abigail (photography)

Noel, Richard (biography)

Cooper, Ken (biography)


New Deal Gallery, Genesee Valley Council on the Arts

Object #FA18280


jpeg, 988 KB


Still image



Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimensions

20 x 24 in.
Condition: stained, surface dirt