The Bulk of the Work


I’m being unkind, but realistic, when I entitle this the bulk of the work. What I mean to say in the most loving way is that Bolton’s creative output was far beyond his means to fulfill. When his studio was emptied there were thousands of drawings and sketches from projects never completed. Many were never paid for, but in some cases, he never found the emotional strength to complete them.

This marvelous figure drawing was for a great Rood beam he spent many many hours designing for the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge, PA. Other drawings from this set exist as he produced quite a stream of them for what was a very exciting project. Sadly, he had been mislead by well meaning people who dreamt they could actually afford to pay for such a large and elaborate project and he was never properly recompensed for his time. It shows his considerable power as a draughtsman.

One thing I should say is that my scanner could not scan the entire piece, hence some missing fingers. It’s shameful to loose those bits and I hope one day to have it properly scanned and preserved.

6 Responses to “The Bulk of the Work”

  1. Thom Says:

    I love it.

  2. ambly Says:

    Thanks, yes it’s very beautiful.

  3. r w fisher Says:

    Thanks for organizing the web tribute to Bolton Morris. It captures his spirit and the way he created which, as his nephew, was a part of my childhood. Watching him gilding a station of the cross as a young boy was a magical experience – seeing him coax the gold leaf onto the gessoed wood and listening to his running ( humorous )commentary through the whole process was an educational experience on many levels, as was Uncle Bo.

  4. ambly Says:

    RW, as your Uncle Bo called you in my presence, thanks for your appreciation. I remain in awe of his gifts and his humanity.

  5. William Morris Says:

    I just discovered this blog as a result of a google search for my grandfather’s birth date. My uncle, better known as “Uncle Bo”, was named after my grandfather. From 1946 to 1952, I lived at “Back O Beyond”. Uncle Bo’s bedroom was at the end of the hall on the second floor. My father and stepmother lived on the third floor but it was my grandmother “Mya” who cared for me. Even when my father and stepmother moved to New Jersey, and took me, I always thought of “Back O Beyond” as my spiritual home. From June 1960 to June 1965, I returned to live at Back O Beyond. During that period, I finished high school and completed 2 years at Villanova University. Upon Mya’s death in June 1965, the house was put up for sale, forcing my Uncle and me to leave, and from there we went our separate ways. All this background is to say that I have pretty good knowledge of the period of my Uncle’s life before he moved to Norristown in 1966. For example, he told me that his father taught him to enjoy classical music Every Sunday morning during the early 1950’s the house rang with E. Power Biggs classical organ music from a radio station (WFLN?) that Uncle Bo tuned into. I always regarded it as church music, since it was every Sunday. He even bought a pipe organ, although he rarely played it. During the early 1950’s he worked in Norristown as a substitute teacher. As I waited for the school bus, I watched his head disappear from view as he walked down the hill to the County Line Road P&W station for the trip to Norristown. From about 1953 to 1958, he worked for Byrne in Doylestown Pa. In 1956,an Aunt and Uncle who lived on the 3rd floor moved to their new home, leaving that space available, From 1958 to 1965 his studio occupied a large room on the 3rd floor. All this is to say that I doubt that he ever had a business that failed before or after he worked for Byrne, although he used the name St Dunstan’s Workshop, perhaps beginning in the late 1940’s.
    About two years ago, an Aunt mailed me one of Uncle Bo’s early paintings that has been in the family for 70 years. It is a painting of an old abandoned weather beaten beach house on the Jersey shore in the 1940’s. It is a great painting, with a big dark sinister dormer window and a stormy grey sky in the background. I have it displayed in my living room. However, my engineering mind notices that a solitary brick chimney supports two thirds of the structure, which is a physical impossibility, since chimneys do not support houses. Also from the perspective that is shown, the left wall is not shown but should be visible in the painting. Even so, he portrays the idea of forlorn abandonment quite well, and I like it for the feeling it conveys, not technical details.

  6. William Morris Says:

    Uncle Bo captured the human form well in this drawing of the crucifixion. Around 1950 or ’51, he obtained a complete human skeleton in a canvas sack. He left the sack on the back staircase. My stepmother freaked out when she opened the sack and peered inside.

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