Wading Greater Yellowlegs Pair
Noah Bernard Sterling (1884-1954)
Crisfield, MD c. 1910
17 in. tall
Made famous in Adele Earnest's 1965 publication "The Art of The Decoy," birds from this rig are pure folk art in every sense. They pre-date the "Bird in Space" sculptures by the pioneer of modernism Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), yet evoke parallels to the minimalist's avian representation. Sterling has rendered the wading yellowlegs down to its basic geometric forms, comprised of spherical heads, cylindrical necks, and conical bodies with a sharp chine on the underside. These iconic sculptures transcend the art of the decoy and stand with the works of the Modernists. Maryland shorebird decoys are exceedingly rare, with only a handful of makers known to exist. Among this small group, Noah Sterling towers above the rest. One of the birds has the "Adele Earnest Collection" stamp on the bottom of the base. Original paint with gunning wear. One has original bill reset at base; the other has a replaced bill. Original wire legs.
PROVENANCE: Adele Earnest Collection Grant Nelson Collection, acquired from Stephen O'Brien, Jr. Fine Arts
LITERATURE: Adele Earnest, "The Art of the Decoy," West Chester, PA, 1965, p. 51, plate 28, similar decoy illustrated.
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