I found this painted wood sculpture of a seal or sea lion balancing a ball at the estate sale of an artist, architect and MIT librarian and fell in love with it at once. I know nothing of its origins, and it is unsigned, but I think it is absolutely fantastic! Carved from what looks to be one piece of wood, its body is painted a deep teal green animated with thousands of tiny dots in yellow, pink, purple, white and a lighter green. And then that face! Big black eyes outlined in white with long eyelashes and then long white whiskers pointing toward the colorful ball at the tip of its nose!
When I first saw this piece I immediately thought of Australian Aboriginal paintings with their stunning dot patterns. My guess, though, is that this is American and I am pretty sure it dates to the 2nd half of the 20th century, but I am not certain. Its owner had quite a collection of interesting artworks and objects from around the world (to say nothing of his extraordinary collection of books!), from from Indonesian puppets to mid-century studio pottery, to modern and contemporary painting and prints. Whoever its maker, this is a truly charismatic object that would make a wonderful addition to any collection!
The sculpture measures 10" long x 9 1/2" tall x 4 1/2" deep and is in excellent vintage condition.