GEISEL, THEODOR SEUSS. 1904-1991.
Original painted clay sculpture, "Mulberry Street Unicorn," 7 inches height by 5 3/4 inches depth (excluding base), inscribed on bottom of base "[illegible] To Phil Dike after his first one man show at Ferregals New York 1939" likely in Dike's hand, chipping and cracking to paint, heaviest at muzzle.
Provenance: collection of Woodward Dike.
RARE DR. SEUSS SCULPTURE GIFTED TO CLOSE FRIEND AND FELLOW ARTIST PHIL DIKE. Geisel began to create the series of mounted animal sculptures he called the "Seuss System of Unorthodox Taxidermy" in 1931. In the fall of 1937 an exhibition of the pieces was held in New York in order to promote And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and in April 1938 an advertisement appeared in Judge magazine announcing "DR. SEUSS RETURNS FROM THE BOBO ISLES ... with Rare and Amazing Trophies for the Walls of your Game-Room, Nursery or Bar!" Available for purchase were mounted trophy heads of the Blue-Green Abelard, the Tufted Guzzard, and the Mulberry Street Unicorn (See Cohen, The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss, pp 168-9, 187ff).
The present Mulberry Street Unicorn represents a variation on the specimen offered in Judge, both in pose and material (the latter incorporated an actual animal horn, gathered from the Forest Park Zoo where Geisel's father was superintendent). This example was gifted to Geisel's friend and fellow artist Phil Dike (1906-1990), on the occasion of Dike's show at the Ferrigal Galleries in New York, according to the inscription on the base. Dike and Geisel met at the Art Students League of New York in the 1920s and remained lifelong friends. According to the consignor, the Mulberry Street Unicorn hung on the wall of Dike's studio as a good luck charm and conversation piece. Dike went on to become one of the key figures in the development of the California Style of watercolor painting. He also worked as the color director in animation department at Walt Disney Studios during the heyday of the 1930s and early 1940s, working on Snow White and Fantasia, among other films.