This pen and ink drawing with gouache highlights is an early work by renowned illustrator Cardwell Higgins. A sublime example of his art deco style, Higgins suffuses this piece in darkness with luminous highlights that emphasize the strength and power of the shirtless man in the foreground, his muscles coiled, as he prepares to strike a blow with his sledgehammer. The piece is somehow both exotic and all-American at the same time. The block atop the anvil glows with smoke that swirls upward in a mysterious, hypnotizing allure while the chiseled man speaks to the booming American industrialism of the time.
This is a finely executed piece that has been handsomely matted and framed to show off Higgins’s expert style and artistry. The illustration comes from the estate of Charles Martignette.