The du Pont Crowell Mallard Drake
A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1912
16 in. long
This bold drake decoy has remained with the same family since it was commissioned from Crowell 110 years ago. Today it survives in exceptional condition; while it was made as a decoy, it was never rigged for hunting. The form, paint, condition, and provenance of this rare decoy place it among Crowell’s very best of this species. When this decoy was made, mallards were not as prevalent along the Atlantic Flyway, as is evidenced by their scarce representation as decoys up and down the East Coast.
The pronounced breast sweeps to a drawn-back head that turns sharply to the right. The head has crisp rasped finishing, deep eye grooves, and pronounced bill detail. The body is finished with his excellent wet-on-wet feather blending. The long sweeping body was finished with carved tail feathers. The underside bears Crowell’s crisp oval brand, denoting an early strike. Like the incomparable Long preening goose, Crowell has painted right up to the edges, but not within the brand.
This lot hails from the same prominent family collection as the Crowell woodcock and blue jay in this sale.
Original paint with light wear, hairline crack in neck has been reset.
Provenance: Eugène E. du Pont Collection, acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, by descent from the above
Literature: Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, p. 35, later drake illustrated, p. 37, early hen illustrated.
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