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Original Pencil Drawing of Three Cats, Drawn With the Artist's Toes
Poynette, Wisconsin, 1903. Poynette, Wisconsin, 1903. (1)ff. framed pencil drawing by Kathryn (Kittie or Kitty) M. R. Smith, measuring nine by 11.75 inches and in a contemporary frame with faux wood grain finish. Two images share a single sheet: on the left is a cat peeking out of a shoe, and on the right are two anthropomorphic cats courting over a picket fence. At the top of the page is affixed a card signed by Smith and inscribed "Poynette, Wisconsin. Written & drawn with her toes. 1903." The drawing is reproduced in the accompanying booklet, "My Life Story," a 32pp. autobiography first published in 1906. This is a later edition, and includes numerous examples of Smit's artwork and black & white photographs showing the artist combing her hair, building furniture out of wood, and writing at her desk, all with her toes. Also included is an undated photograph, probably from the 1940s, depicting an elderly Smith sitting with a woman labeled Marie Van Atta. Kittie Smith was born in 1882 into a poor Chicago family, and lost her mother to illness when she was nine years old. The following year, Smith's father, who was an abusive alcoholic, held her hands and arms against a lit stove, burning them so severely that they had to be amputated. Her father was prosecuted but found not guilty by a jury, and Smith herself was inconsistent in recounting the events, refusing to speak ill of her father. However, after her hospitalization she became a ward of the Children's Home Society of Illinois and .spent four years at the Home for Destitute Crippled Children, where she attended school and learned to write and sew with her feet. In 1896, she moved to Poynette, Wisconsin, where she lived with a private family for eight years. Smith was an entirely self-taught artist who traveled and gave demonstrations and lectures about her life. Her autobiography reveals a cheerful and perservering mentality. Smith worked with several organizations to support children with disabilities and established the Kittie Smith Company, wanting to serve as a role model. In 1913, she became the first woman to vote in Chicago, casting her ballot with her feet. By the 1930s, Smith performed as "The Armless Dynamo" at Coney Island and with Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, and John Robinson's Circuses. Booklet shows some light spiling along the top edge of the cover, and the drawing has the faintest marginal dampstaining, else fine.
      [Bookseller: Bromer Booksellers]
Last Found On: 2014-04-01           Check availability:      Biblio    


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