A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1930
9 in. long
The deep feeding position of this decorative is exceedingly rare as most of Crowell's yellowlegs are seen in preening, raised-wing, or straight-head positions. The feather blending is among the best of any of the maker's shorebird carvings. The finely crafted legs and feet are resting on a contoured carved rock base. The carving is signed in ink on the underside "A. E. Crowell, Cape Cod/The bird man/With my best wishes to Hickey" and struck with his rectangular stamp. Collectors' reverence for this rarely seen posture in carvings made by Crowell is evident, with the top two all-time results for the maker's shorebirds held by birds with similar feeding poses. This decorative has been well documented since coming to market in one of the earliest decoy auctions, a 1971 Richard Bourne sale where it was the top lot, commanding $2,400. Nine years later, it was featured in the Philadelphia Wildfowl Exposition catalog alongside the O'Brien-Mackey Wheeler Goose, Doherty-McCleery Bunn/Bowman Curlew, and Rockefeller Cape May Merganser pair. This iconic feeder was next featured on the front cover of the stand-alone John S. du Mont Collection catalog by Northeast Auctions in 2007.
The combination of form, paint, condition, and provenance place this among the maker's most desirable shorebird decoratives.
In excellent original paint with minimal wear.
Provenance: William Hickey Collection
John S. du Mont Collection
Private Collection, Connecticut
Literature: Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, pp. 212, 218, 225, 229, and back end-leaf, related examples illustrated.
Northeast Auctions, “The John S. du Mont Collection,” Portsmouth, NH, August 2007, front cover and lot 715, exact carving illustrated.
Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. “Select Carvings by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952),” Boston, MA, 2008, no. 5, exact carving illustrated.
Richard A. Bourne Co., Inc., "Rare American Bird Decoys, Bird Carvings, and Related Items," Hyannis, MA, 1971, lot 266, exact decoy illustrated.
Jackson Parker, “Philadelphia Wildfowl Exposition,” Philadelphia, PA, 1980, p. 3, exact carving illustrated.
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