Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983)
Quail Hunting, 1940
signed "Ogden M. Pleissner" lower right
watercolor, 15 by 29 in.
inscribed "To W. Howard Cox, With best wishes" lower right
Ogden Minton Pleissner was born in Brooklyn, New York, and studied figure painting and portraiture with Frank DuMond and Frederick J. Boston at the Art Students League of New York. Despite growing up in the city, Pleissner was attracted to the outdoors and, as a teen, he visited dude ranches in Wyoming, where he sketched from life. Pleissner wanted to be classified primarily as a landscape painter, who also loved to hunt and fish. His subjects range from the landscapes of Europe to salmon fishing in Quebec, and his style is informed by the classical traditions. His work is in more than thirty public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By the 1930s and 40s, Pleissner was one of the most sought-after painters of Southern hunt scenes. Business executives and community leaders, like W. Howard Cox, traveled to plantations during the dreary northern winters to hunt wild wild turkey and bobwhite quail and then commissioned artists, like Pleissner and Ripley, to paint themselves and family members while hunting.
Cox rose through the ranks to head Union Central Life Insurance Company, which, during his 55-year career, became one of the largest life insurance companies in the country. In addition to his abundant cultural and philanthropic efforts in Ohio, Cox was an economic advisor to seven U.S. presidents as a charter member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Business Advisory Council.
A consummate sportsman, Cox was a member of Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and numerous other groups and clubs. In 1918 he was written up in The American Angler after a Cincinnati field day: “In the shooting events held on Saturday, our worthy president, W. Howard Cox, demonstrated his admirable qualities...as he was head and shoulders above the thirty-seven other contestants...he totaled nineteen points including first prize in the rifle contest, first prize in the pistol contest, first prize in rapid-fire revolver contest, and third prize in trap shooting...thereby winning the field championship prize..."
His obituary notes, “His ability to concentrate his full attention to any problem was an important factor in his successes -- from 16-yard clay targets to the intricacies of a multi-million dollar financial statement...[He] was unbeatable with flyrod, shotgun, rifle -- or in the art of being a gentleman -- and a scholar." Additionally, Cox “fished with some of the world’s expert anglers. Ted Williams, then at the height of his baseball career, once said that Cox wore him to a frazzle every time they waded the bonefish flats of Florida Bay," according to the obituary. Cox died in 1980 at the age of 96.
His family recalls, “Cox had a close group of men friends, all of whom were business leaders who liked to hunt, shoot, fly fish, and play golf. His friends would gather from time to time to golf at Augusta National, or to hunt quail at Pine Knoll Plantation in Albany, GA." The golfer Bobby Jones was part of this group, and, indeed, was a great friend of Cox. “Jones was not only one of the finest golfers in the world, he was an all-around sportsman who liked to hunt wild turkeys and bobwhite quail," according to Augusta Magazine.
In "Quail Hunting," Pleissner has included all the characteristics of a good Southern hunting scene. The action has a backdrop of tall pine trees and the distant cabin, moss-draped oaks, and fields add a stirring beauty to the setting. The moment is immediate as the dogs point a covey of quail. The handlers, with their horses, stand at attention. Outfitted in sporting coats and hats, the hunters swing on the birds, hoping for a successful outcome.
Provenance: W. Howard Cox Collection, acquired as a gift in the 1940s
Private Collection, Ohio, by descent in the family
Literature: Peggy Lane, “W.H Cox, 96, Businessman and Sportsman," Cincinnati Enquirer, February 1981.
Dave Roberts, “W. Howard Cox excelled in many diverse fields," Cincinnati Post, February 1981.
W.C. Green, “The Cincinnati Tournament," The American Angler, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1918, p. 164.
“Golfing Great Bobby Jones, All-Around Outdoor Sportsman," Augusta Magazine, August/September 2019.
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