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The National Croquet Gallery:
Surveying the collection in its new permanent home at the Charles P. Steuber National Croquet Center

Text by Bob Alman with Dr. James Miles
Layout by Reuben Edwards
Related Links
National Croquet Center Website
The Art of Croquet - Paintings from the Newport Gallery
Wimbledon Croquet Museum Paintings and Artifacts
Croquet Venues of England, by Liz Taylor

The National Croquet Museum and Gallery collection, displayed at the Newport Art Museum until 2001, has been relocated to its new permanent home in West Palm Beach at the Charles P. Steuber National Croquet Center. The Gallery’s first director, the late Theo Holcomb, started the collection with the considerable support of Barton Gubelmann. The collection is now managed by Dr. James Miles, who installed it at the new Center, where most of the paintings and photographs are housed in the second-floor Museum Hall, while others share space with three-dimensional artifacts in the Trophy Hall downstairs.

Une Partie De Croquet, engraving by Paul Girardet, 1872

The fine detail of this classically elegant tableau deserves to be seen in the original, hanging on the walls of the National Croquet Gallery, or through a special gift edition print issued by the Croquet Foundation of America to donors. Donated by the Foxy Carter Estate, Newport, Rhode Island.

Une Partie De Croquet
"Une Partie De Croquet" [better view]

A Nice Game for Two or More, color print with text, by John Leach

Although the date of this print is unknown, the subject clearly reflects the spirit of the game as it was played at its height of popularity in England in the 1870’s and 1880’s. It was the focus of countless garden parties where gentlemen and young ladies could play all sorts of social games with impunity. The text frames a quote from the saucy young lady: 'Fixing her eyes on his, and placing her pretty little foot on the ball, she said, ‘How, now, shall I croquet you?’ And croqueted he was, quite thoroughly!' Donated by Mrs. Walter Gubelmann, Newport, Rhode Island, and Palm Beach.

A Nice Game for Two or More
"A Nice Game for Two or More" [better view]

A Game of Croquet, reproduction from The Daily Graphic, June 20, 1870

This tinted reproduction vividly illustrates the social nature of the new game of croquet, and the reason for its popularity as a fertile ground for flirting and seduction, enhanced by the excited gossip of prim elderly ladies. From the Foxy Carter Estate, Newport, Rhode Island.

A Game of Croquet
"A Game of Croquet" [better view]

Knocke-Sur-Mer, Belgium, circa 1910

An attached quatrain serves as a caption: "The tide is low in Knock-Sur-Mer, / The sailboats are at rest, / And windswept ladies play croquet / In seaside linens dressed." From the collection of Allen Scheuck, New York City.

"Knocke-Sur-Mer" [better view]

Wicket Thoughts, 1979 color reproduction based on a 1931 illustration by Norman Rockwell
Danbury Mint Doll, 1992

The Danbury mint doll in the foreground was made in 1992 as a three-dimensional representation of the woman in Norman Rockwell’s "Wicket Thoughts", a color reproduction from the a 1931 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. From a 21st Century perspective, the doll appears to achieve the effect of a political correction of the Rockwell’s image of a turn-of-the-century Gibson Girl being crowded by a wimpy male figure over her shoulder in the midst of her backswing. By contrast, the solitary doll is completely confident and self-actualized in the act of "sending" an opponent’s ball to China. Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Al Health, New York City and Palm Beach.

Wicket Thoughts
"Wicket Thoughts" [better view]

Watching Croquet, oil on board, 5 ˝ x 71/2, by Frank Milan

This small painting was donated by the Andrew Fuller Estate, New York City.

Watching Croquet
"Watching Croquet" [better view]

Lady with Mallet and Yellow Ball, oil on board, by William A. Jensen

Stripped down to bare essentials, this simple painting is strangely compelling. What is this woman thinking? Donated in 1993 by Mr. And Mrs. John M. Rivers, Jr., of Charleston, South Carolina and Cashiers, North Carolina.

Lady with Mallet and Yellow Ball
"Lady with Mallet and Yellow Ball" [better view]

Newport Casino, Center Court, oil on canvas by Elizabeth B, Harvey.

More than a century after the All-England Wimbledon Croquet Club was converted to tennis, the tennis courts at the casino in Newport, Rhode Island, were an important venue for major croquet competitions in the 1980s, when the U.S. Croquet Association was in its infancy. There were few venues boasting more than two croquet courts, but as many as 10 courts could be temporarily re-commissioned from these grass tennis courts, with the lines still showing. Donated by the artist.

Newport Casino, Center Court
"Newport Casino, Center Court" [better view]

Croquet, Anyone?, watercolor by John Lavalle.

This watercolor captures the spirit of summertime up north, with a "real" croquet lawn in the side yard. Although the style is casual and some of the feet are bare, the croquet is intense. Players will note that the deadness board is most unusual - not just for the vertical alignment, but for the order of colors. Did the painter make a mistake... or is he just teasing us? A gift of Mrs. Andrew Fuller, New York City.

Croquet, Anyone?
"Croquet, Anyone?" [better view]

Croquet, anyone?

ENDNOTE: The museum is in the large second-floor multi-use hall dedicated to the late Patricia Supper, a major donor to the National Croquet Center. People who engage "The Supper Club" are able to enjoy the full spectrum of the evolving collection along approximately 300 linear feet of wall space. Visitors to the Center may walk through the gallery and also view the balance of the collection downstairs in the Trophy Hall; if they are available, staff members or the Center’s "Croquet Ambassador" volunteers will serve as escorts and guides and - perhaps - share stories about the objects of art and the croquet players who donated them.

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