Swimming Merganser Hen Franklin Pierce Wright (1854-1939) West Barnstable, MA, c. 1890 19 in. long
“Franklin Pierce Wright, the son of sea captain Zenas Weeks and Sarah Handy Wright, grew up in the village of Sandwich on Cape Cod: he was one of four boys. As a young man he worked on the railroad out of his hometown, but by the time he was married in 1885 (his new bride was Dulcina “Elsie” Crocker) he had moved north across the Cape to West Barnstable. This was very likely because it abutted the Barnstable Great Marsh. He was a seasonal market gunner and the marsh provided a wealth of waterfowl and shorebird habitat.” -Gwladys Hopkins, Massachusetts Masterpieces
Discussing a rigmate in “Massachusetts Masterpieces: The Decoy as Art,” Hopkins writes, “Only three, perhaps four, other decoys are known by this maker. One is the snakiest, raciest merganser ever found.”
Finding Wright decoys with their original heads, bills, and tails intact is nearly impossible. This merganser displaying a racy attitude with pronounced raised wing carving is one of the maker's best examples.
In 1980 Hawthorne loaned this decoy to the Ward Museum where it was exhibited for several decades. It bears the museum's oval inventory sticker on the underside. In old paint with gunning wear and age lines.
Provenance: Davison B. Hawthorne Collection
Literature: Gwladys Hopkins, "Massachusetts Masterpieces: The Decoy as Art," Lincoln, MA, 2016, p. 85, rigmate illustrated.
Exhibited: Salisbury, Maryland, The Ward Foundation and Museum, 1980-2000.
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