George Stuart Historical Figures: Early Works from the Hernandez Monsanto Collection Part I & II

September 22, 2017 – January 21, 2018

The exhibit, George Stuart Historical Figures: Early Works from the Hernandez Monsanto Collection at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, is made possible through the generous donation by Eunice and E.G. Hernandez and Family of 32 one-quarter-life-size Historical Figures by artist George Stuart. Created between 1957 and 1958, these early works by Mr. Stuart include individuals who were the driving force that shaped human history; the famous and infamous from ancient civilizations, European nobility, and political crusades. A self-taught artist, Mr. Stuart developed his technique for building and detailing miniature figurative sculptures over fifty years, eventually achieving a life-like quality, which has become synonymous with his work.

Due to the breadth of this collection, the museum will be presenting the exhibit in two parts. Please be aware these exhibits contain partial nudity. Both exhibits are included with museum admission or free for museum members. 

Part I:  September 22 through November 26, 2017

Part I of this exhibit will feature the following figures:  Alexander the Great, Assurbanipal, Cleopatra, Dionysius of Syracuse, Emperor Nero, Helen of Troy, Herod Antipas, Julius Caesar, King Nebuchadrezzar II, Livia Drusilla Augusta, Minos of Crete, Poppaea Sabina, Queen of Sheba, Salome, Tutankhamun

Part II:  November 28 through January 21, 2018

Part II of this exhibit will feature the following figures:  Alfred the Great, Alexandra Princess of Wales, Catherine De Medici, Caroline von Brunswick, Erik the Red, Maria FitzherbertIsabeau of Bavaria, Ivan The Terrible, Mt. Vernon Lady, Napoleon, Philip II, Dress of the Lincoln Era (Mary Todd), Queen Victoria 1900, Queen Victoria Robes of State 1837, Queen Elizabeth II, William the Conqueror, Woman in Circa 1815 Walking Dress

Provenance of the Early Works

The pieces in this collection of early works were part of a group of 38 Figures purchased by the Monsanto Chemical Company in 1965 for the purpose of an exhibit titled Fashion and Fabrics Through the Ages presented in the Hall of Chemistry at Disneyland from March 1965 to September of 1966. Monsanto desired to show “how the natural fibers of the past can be duplicated with today’s (circa 1960s) manmade fibers.”

During the 1970s, the company sold the collection and these early Figures passed into private hands. Eunice Hernandez was visiting an antique store in St. Louis when several Historical Figures showed up in the inventory. She was immediately enamored with the Figures and began collecting them one by one. Her husband E.G. Hernandez gave several to his wife as gifts and eventually she had acquired 32 of the original 38. As Eunice researched the Figures over the years, the Hernandez family and Mr. Stuart struck up a friendship which continues to this day. In 2005, the collection was passed down to Mrs. Hernandez’ daughter, Joyce Watson. Ms. Watson recognized that the Figures were in need of maintenance and repair, and from 2005 through 2007, Mr. Stuart completely restored the sculptures. After completion, Joyce and her siblings felt that these works should be shared with the public, generously donating the collection to The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Artist Biography  

For more than fifty years, George Stuart has been capturing the essence of history’s most colorful personalities, modeling mixed media Historical Figures in his Ojai, California studio.

Artist George Stuart at work, photo by Peter D’Aprix

Mr. Stuart is a creative spirit who has been captivated with art and architecture since adolescence. As a youth, he visited Europe and was awed by Versailles. Though he was only nine years old, he endeavored to build a 1/2” scale model of the castle, which he fashioned from concrete, marble and mahogany. Looking back on his childhood, Stuart remembers the Christmas of 1937, in which he received a special gift from his parents: a Czechoslovakian puppet. He was fascinated with the puppet’s human form and movement and it remained a prized possession. From the time he received the puppet, Stuart felt a desire to build his own small-scale articulated figures.

Mr. Stuart created his first Historical Figure one New Year’s day in the late 1940s. Having developed a passion for history, and with the impression of Louis XVI still etched upon his mind since his long ago visit to Versailles, he created a mixed media, full-body three-dimensional portrait of the king in about one day. It was not his intention to make a group of figures that fateful day; he simply had the materials and decided to “give it a go”. Pleased with the results of his first endeavor but desiring a more realistic representation, he decided to attempt another portrait. He built Figure after Figure, inevitably launching a body of work, which now includes four hundred life-like Historical Portraits. Along the way, artisans from embroiderers to metal casters have shared their techniques and skills with Mr. Stuart, who is otherwise self-taught. Mr. Stuart remains very active in the preservation and restoration of his existing Figures. For more information about Mr. Stuart and his work, please visit the Gallery of Historical Figures.

Audio Tour Available

These Historical Figures are brought to life through additional commentary narrated by TMTM docent, Don Schroth. These audio tracks may be accessed on your own smart device by following the instructions at the exhibit. Please bring headphones, or you can borrow a pair from us. Transcripts of these recordings are available at the front desk.

Associated Programs

Vegrandis 2017 | September, 30, 2017

Part II Members Opening Reception | November 30, 2017

Exhibit Support and Sponsors:​

This exhibit is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Photos by Peter D’Aprix, courtesy of the Gallery of Historical Figures.