Carl Rice Embrey was born in 1938 in Hamilton, Texas. He studied art at the University of Texas and then taught at the San Antonio Art Institute for over two decades. Early in his career he was heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism, but over time he became a representational painter who created nearly photorealistic landscapes and paintings of barns.
He's now one of the best known Texan painters. Despite this fact I was not able to find anything resembling Venus Revisited, the ceramic plaque that he created in 1963. I believe it might have been a one-off, possibly a school project, as 1963 was the year that he received his BFA.
This large tile mural - or a sculpture - is composed of nearly 30 three-dimensional tiles of irregular shapes. These tiles are deep with a lot of protruding elements; some stick out as much as 2". Puzzled together the tiles make up an abstract representation... of either a woman or a woman holding a child. The interpretation is best left to the viewer on this one. The tiles are covered in thick, heavily textured matte glazes: white, blue, dark gray, and everything in between.
There are just a few minor chips on some of the tiles; overall the piece is magnificent (and very heavy). One of the tiles was loose so I took it out and secured it again, so I got a good look at the underside of the tiles.
Another interesting bit is the inscription at the back of the mounting board that establishes the provenance:
Carl R. Embrey // "Venus Revisited" // by Carl R. Embrey // Purchased 3/63 // Club Caravan (Villa Capri, Austin Texas) // [can't decipher] // Framed Wgt 38# // Betty A. Theobalt
A quick Google search tells me that Betty Ann Theobalt was a writer, artist, musician, and businesswoman in Austin. She was a few years older than Embrey. Who was she - a patron or a muse?
- Dimensions: 24" x 28"
- Acquired: Georgetown, Texas, May 2013