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Copley Fine Art Auctions is the world's leading American sporting art auction company. Located in Hingham, MA, Copley specializes in antique decoys and 19th- and 20th-century American, sporting, and wildlife paintings. Principal Stephen O'Brien Jr., a fourth-generation sportsman with a refined colle...Read more
Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928)
Autumn Woodcock Shooting, 1895
signed "A.B. Frost" lower right
watercolor and gouache, 13 1/2 by 21 1/2 in.
titled on The Old Print Shop, New York label on back
Charles Porter Schutt, known to friends and family as Porter, was an avid sportsman with a keen appreciation for sporting art. Born in 1911 in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1935, he married Phyllis Moxham du Pont, daughter of Eugene E. du Pont. Under her father’s champion tutelage, she became an accomplished shot at an early age. Together, Porter and Phyllis shared a profound love of the outdoors, respect for nature, and enjoyment of the sport of shooting. They spent countless days hunting quail, woodcock, dove, duck, and wild turkey at her parents’ two expansive sporting properties, Kinloch Plantation, on the Santee River outside Charleston, South Carolina, and Napley Green, on the Chester River near Rock Hall, Maryland. In addition to attending and hosting organized shooting parties on the East Coast, the couple regularly traveled to Scotland and Spain to enjoy “walked up” days flushing out partridge, pheasant, and woodcock with other experienced guns.
In the late 1960s, the Schutts purchased a large tract of land in Alabama where they envisioned a shooting plantation of their own. “Gallio,” the result, is a pristine forested property, shaped over forty years into a shooting paradise, and designed to provide and protect a perfect natural habitat for game birds.
Though the walls at Gallio and at Dogwood, in Wilmington, were covered with Audubons and Frosts, “Autumn Woodcock” had a place of pride in Porter’s library above his desk as his favorite and most prized work of art. It was the perfect painting to appreciate while sitting, nursing a scotch, and planning the next shooting party or yearly trip to Scotland. To Porter and Phyllis, Frost’s incredible eye for detail and ability to capture the spirit of the moment trumped all others. Porter Schutt died in 1999, and “Autumn Woodcock” descended in the family until being offered today.
A. B. Frost was born in Philadelphia in 1851, but spent his most prolific years in New Jersey. Considered one of the great illustrators of the “Golden Age of American Illustration,” he illustrated more than ninety books and produced thousands of illustrations for “Harper’s Weekly,” “Scribner’s,” and “Life” magazines. Frost’s illustrative work chronicles the mood and details of the daily life of farmers, hunters, and fishermen, as well as barnyards and pastoral motifs.
By 1876, he was on Harper’s staff working on many books including “Tom Sawyer,” “Uncle Remus,” and “Mr. Dooley.” He also illustrated Theodore Roosevelt’s sporting book, "Hunting Trips of a Ranchman."
Frost was an ardent sportsman who spent his summers and autumns fishing, rowing, and hunting ducks and snipe. He is best known for his hunting and shooting prints which capture the drama of sport in realistic, detailed settings. Frost lived much of his life at his estate, Moneysunk, in Convent Station, New Jersey.
This work, “Autumn Woodcock,” is the original watercolor reproduced by Charles Scribner’s Sons in Frost’s "Shooting Pictures," a portfolio of twelve chromolithograph prints. It is considered one of the artist's most iconic and recognized works.
Of the thousands of works that Frost is known to have produced, "Autumn Woodcock," with its excellent composition and superb condition, ranks right at the top. The work reveals Frost as one of the greatest illustrators of his generation. The hunter is perfectly positioned as the setters come across the woodcock by a brook, a Frost masterwork in every sense.
As Henry M. Reed notes, “Every scene portrayed is one that each of us who has hunted with dog and gun has experienced - the setter staunchly on point, the gun ready, thumb on the safety, and heart pounding as we await the explosive fluttering of wings as the bird flushes...all of these are situations which the artist handles with such realism and familiarity that the viewer is placed squarely in the center of the adventure...The pointing dogs are magnificent - sneaky, noses moist and low, and their weightless balance, with forefoot raised, is perfection. The landscape backgrounds for the shooting pictures signify autumn, with grey morning mist behind the birches, the fallen leaves wet with morning dew...”
Provenance: Charles Porter Schutt Collection, acquired from The Old Print Shop, New York
Sarah S. Harrison Collection, by descent
Renee du Pont Harrison Collection, by descent
Literature: Henry M. Reed, "The A. B. Frost Book," Charleston, SC, 1993, p. 87, illustrated.
Henry M. Reed, "The A. B. Frost Book," Rutland, VT, 1967, illustrated.
Henry W. Lanier, "A. B. Frost The American Sportsman's Artist," New York, 1933, illustrated.
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