The Waring Feeding Dust-Jacket Plover
A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1910
11 in. long
Believed to be one of four feeding dust-jacket plovers known, this exact decoy is featured on the front dust-jacket cover of "New England Decoys" by John and Shirley Delph.
Crowell captures this rare pose perfectly, demonstrating his familiarity with the species. The arched back extends to a tapered neck and round head that is engaged with the space below it, suggesting the pulling of a morsel from the tidal flats. True to the pose, the wing tips and tail are accurately drawn together more closely, in contrast to the flared tails of its rigmates. The incised primaries extend six inches in length along the lower edges of the wings. The raised delineation of each wing is carved all the way around and resolves with a pronounced hollow between the two wing tips.
Crowell"s exquisite paint techniques laid atop this masterful sculpture create an illusion of realism unrivaled by any other decoy maker. The bird"s surface is finished with Crowell"s best high-contrast marbleized paint along the lower sides with the back, showcasing his signature wet-on-wet paint throughout the mottled feather groups.
The Crowell feeding black-bellied plover form is among the most popular in all of decoy collecting. Three of these have anchored the three iconic trios, including Mackey, Harmon, and this Waring trio. The fourth feeder resides in the The Paul Tudor Jones Collection. The Jones decoy holds the world record for any shorebird decoy, selling for $830,000 at auction.
Included with this lot is a copy of "New England Decoys." and "American Bird Decoy".
Outstanding original paint with light gunning wear, a few spots of minimal touch-up to black flakes under head, on flank and edge of wings, small flake to bill.
Provenance: Anthony Waring Collection
Michael and Julie Hall Collection, acquired from the above, circa 1985
The Johnson Collection, acquired 2007
Literature: John and Shirley Delph, "New England Decoys," Exton, PA, 1981, front dust-jacket cover and pp. 118-119, exact decoy discussed and illustrated (image reversed on p. 119).
Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, pp. 220-221, exact decoy illustrated.
Kate Beckerman, "A. Elmer Crowell: Celebrating Cape Cod"s Master Carver," "Art and the Antiques Weekly," August 17, 2018, exact decoy illustrated.
Guyette and Schmidt, "North American Decoys at Auction," St. Charles, Il, April 2007, front cover and lot 136, exact decoy illustrated.
Ronald S. Swanson, "The Decoy as Folk Sculpture," Cranbrook Academy of Art Exhibition Catalog, January 1987, p. 16, fig. 22, trio mate illustrated.
Brian Cullity, "The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son," Hyannis, MA, 1992, p. 49, pl. II, and p. 59, related plover illustrated.
Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, p. 160, related plover illustrated.
John Clayton, "Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds, and Decorative Carvings," The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, 2010, p. 86, related plover illustrated.
Frank Maresca & Roger Ricco, "American Vernacular," New York, NY, 2002, p. 33, related plover illustrated.
William J. Mackey Jr., "American Bird Decoys," New York, NY, 1965, p. 64, pl. III, and front dust-jacket cover, related plover illustrated.
Loy S. Harrell Jr., "Decoys: North America"s One Hundred Greatest," Iola, WI, 2000, p. 98, related plover illustrated.
Joe Engers, ed., "The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys," San Diego, CA, 1990, p. 53, related plover illustrated.
Exhibited: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, "The Decoy as Folk Sculpture," Cranbrook Academy of Art, January 27"February 22, 1987.
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