William “Bil” Britton Baird (1904-1987) [RA 1982-1987, HA 1987] : Face in an animated portrait “Wee Cooper O’Fife” with Burl Ives, ca.1941.



SAL record control number: 85926 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: Face in an animated portrait “Wee Cooper O’Fife” with Burl Ives ;

Alternate work titles:
Face in an animated portrait “Wee Cooper O’Fife” with Burl Ives  [from Baird collaborator] ; 

Work date: ca.1941 ;

Work creator: William Britton “Bil” Baird (1904-1987)

Work medium: ? ; 
Work dimensions: ? x ? inches ; 

Inscribed / signed front: [none] ; 

Verso: [none] ; 

SAL category: Sculpture ; 
SAL sub-category: Puppet ; 

Archives of American Art subjects:
Art―Private collections―New York (State)
Art―Private collections―New York (State)―Salmagundi
Sculpture — Puppet

Description of work:

A portrait of singer Burl Ives known for his revival of the song Wee Cooper O’Fife, an Irish folk song.

“Wee Cooper O’Fife” is a Scottish folk song about a cooper who has “a braw new wife” who will not cook, clean, and sew in case she “spoil her comely hue”. A town in Fife is called Cupar; this is a pun.

Verses get added, with one version having him put a sheep skin jacket on her and beating it. It was recorded by Burl Ives on 11 February 1941 for his debut album Okeh Presents the Wayfaring Stranger. It has also been recorded by Hedy West, Ed McCurdy, and Ian Campbell.

1987 Salmagundi, New York, NY, donated by the artist’s son Peter Baird in memory of his father William Britton “Bil” Baird (1904-1987), accession #2006.39 ; 
ca.1941 William Britton “Bil” Baird (1904-1987), the artist .

Exhibition history:
2021 SMAA Bil Baird : Narrative Design November – December.

References / citations:

– The museum would like to gratefully acknowledge the help of fellow puppeteer Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher, longtime collaborator to Bil Baird for their kind assistance with identifying the puppet and their productions, 2021.


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Record birth date:
March 31, 2021

Last updated: September 4, 2021 at 17:21 pm