Important Calling Yellowlegs
A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1915
11 in. long
This exceptional and rare decorative stands among the finest yellowlegs that Crowell ever created. Carved with a rarely seen open wooden bill and dropped wings, the slightly upswept tail and dropped primaries mirror the horizontal V-shape of the bill, providing the carving with a perfect balance. The top edges of the wings are raised over the body, creating a carved V over the back. The bold body includes slight shoulder separation. A strong S-curve defines the drawn-back posture of the calling head. Crowell applied his finest wet-on-wet paint with great detail to represent the species’ plumage, including special treatment to the auriculars and under the eyes. With particularly long legs and bill, this example represents the greater (winter) yellowlegs. The base is the maker's very best carved clamshell and its underside bears an early and crisp oval brand. Crowell made a closely related calling yellowlegs hunting decoy for his patron Harry V. Long in 1910. He subsequently carved a decorative for Long in the same posture. This carving, out of the Evans Collection, is based on the very same decorative pattern and was likely made at the same time for a friend of Long's. These two distinct carvings mark the nexus of Crowell’s transition from the marsh to the mantle.
Original paint with minimal wear, a reset neck, some restoration to the bill, and touch-up to thigh putty.
Provenance: Carolyn Rowland Collection
Thomas M. Evans Jr. Collection
Literature: Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, p. 125, exact decorative illustrated.
Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, "The Harry V. Long Collection of A. Elmer Crowell Decoys," The Sporting Sale, Boston, MA, 2009, lot 64, pp. 24, 73 and dust jacket cover, Long calling decoy illustrated.
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