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Rare Flying Black Duck
Ira Hudson (1873-1949)
Chincoteague, VA, 1947
20 in. long with a 24 1/4 in. wingspan
Through sculptures such as this one, Hudson planted his flag as the South’s greatest waterfowl folk artist of the era. In "Ira D. Hudson and Family," historian Henry Stansbury writes that “of all of Hudson’s carvings, his flyers, standers and walkers are likely his greatest artistic contribution to the folk art community...Hudson’s decoratives were not bound by function, but were rather whimsical interpretations of waterfowl in nature. It was a world that Ira Hudson knew well.”
This resourceful maker carved his decoys from a variety of wood types, including driftwood and old ships’ masts. In this carving he chose balsa for its light weight for use as a wall hanging. In addition to working decoys, Hudson carved miniatures, decoratives, and fish. Always an innovative maker, he portrayed his life-like carvings in a variety of positions. His hissing geese, turning ducks, and spread-wing decoratives exemplify the animation in his carvings.
Hudson enlisted the help of his family to fill his numerous carving orders. All nine children learned under his wing and contributed in some capacity to his carving. Like most of his best decoratives, this bird was finished in Delbert Hudson’s finest scratch paint. The underside of the left wing bears the inscription “MAKER IRA HUDSON CHINCOTEAGUE VIRGINIA PAINTING DELBERT HUDSON 1947.”
This bold flyer is among Hudson’s most successful and dramatic creations. Mounted on a wall or a beam, it holds a commanding presence. The outstretched head is turned and has full cheeks, eye grooves, and carved bill detail. True to Hudson’s distinctive style, the fluted tail echoes the head and is also turned slightly to the left, giving the bird a full arch from tip-to-tail.
Hudson fliers have long been held in high esteem, residing in the noted collections of William J. Mackey, Jr., Donal C. O'Brien, Jr., William H. Purnell, Jr., Henry H. Stansbury, and The Ward Museum. This full-size flying black duck is one of Hudson's rarest and most collectable forms. Original paint with even wear, minor touch-up to wing joints, replaced left wing tip, and some green paint spatter mostly on underside.
Provenance: Private Collection, Virginia
Dr. Samuel "Jack" Marsh Collection
Literature: Henry H. Stansbury, "Ira D. Hudson and Family, Chincoteague Carvers," Lewes, DE, 2002, p. 146, similar carving illustrated.
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