Rare Beavertail Pintail Drake The Ward Brothers Lemuel T. (1896-1984) and Stephen (1895-1976) Crisfield, MD, c. 1930 20 1/4 in. long
“Stephen W. Ward (1895-1976) and his brother Lemuel Travis Ward (1896-1984) of Crisfield, Maryland were by far the most prominent Chesapeake Bay carvers of the twentieth century and among the greatest and most influential bird carvers of all time. The brothers worked closely together throughout their lives, combining the complementary talents of Steve’s hand carving and Lem’s brushwork to create works of extraordinary grace and realism.” -Robert Shaw “Bird Decoys of North America: Nature, History, and Art”
This decoy was found in the home of a Pennsylvania gentleman by Frank Schmidt. The owner was a friend of the Wards and acquired it from the brothers near the time of its creation. This early retirement from hunting may explain the exceptional condition the bird displays. The Ward Brothers captured the likeness of species in their carvings as well as any decoy makers in history, and their early abilities are on full display in this drake. This beavertail model shows Steve’s refinement of the earlier humpback design. Gard and McGrath note that “the pintail was Lem’s favorite bird and he shows this preference in the painting of his pintails.” This decoy has survived as one of the finest examples from the rig. Describing a rigmate from the Brodie M. Henson collection in 1964, John Leavens writes, "One of a set of stool made to order for Senator Elwood Dize of Crisfield, Maryland."
The underside of this lot is inscribed “L.T. WARD - Bro. CRISFIELD, MD -1930-” and bears a paper tag with typed and hand-written collector's notes also referring to Senator Dize. Excellent original paint with even gunning wear.
Provenance: Private Collection, Pennsylvania Herb Wetanson Collection
Literature: Ronald J. Gard and Brian J. McGrath, "The Ward Brothers' Decoys: A Collector's Guide," Plano, TX, 1989, p. 58, photo 32, rigmate illustrated. Guyette and Schmidt, "North American Decoys at Auction, November 8 & 9, 2000," Easton Maryland, cover, and lot 258, exact decoy illustrated. Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, p. 203. John M. Leavens, "The Stylistic Development of Lem Ward," "Decoy Collector's Guide," Burlington, IA, Oct.-December, 1964, p. 28, rigmate illustrated.
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