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Augustus Aaron Wilson

(1864 -  1950 )
WILSON Augustus Aaron Eider Hen

Copley
Jul 25, 2014
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Artworks in Arcadja
3

Some works of Augustus Aaron Wilson

Extracted between 3 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Augustus Aaron Wilson - Rare Mallard Hen

Augustus Aaron Wilson - Rare Mallard Hen

Original
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Price:

Lot number: 86
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Rare Mallard Hen

Augustus Aaron Wilson (1864-1950)

South Portland, ME, c. 1900

A very rare species for a Wilson decoy. This oversize Down East mallard hen has slightly raised wings, carved eyes, and bill detail.

Original paint with gunning wear, professional touch-up around reset neck, and an age crack along the bottom.

Provenance: Private Collection, Virginia

Private Collection

Literature: Joe Engers, ed., "The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys," San Diego, CA, 1990, p. 36, similar decoy illustrated.
Augustus Aaron Wilson - Eider Hen

Augustus Aaron Wilson - Eider Hen

Original
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Price:

Net Price
Lot number: 92
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Eider Hen

Augustus Aaron Wilson (1864-1950)

South Portland, ME, c. 1900

"Wilson looked at waterfowl much the way the Ward brothers did. There was a similarity in their ability to capture an unusual pose and to produce a decoy that continues to enthrall even the seasoned gunners who have spent their lives observing waterfowl.� -Maine decoy author and historian, Captain John Dinan

This boldly carved sea duck is one of the finest Wilson eider hen decoys to ever be offered at public auction. The carving features an exceptionally rendered breast, a preening head with carved eyes, bill detail, and raised wings.

This large bird is over seventeen and one-half inches long, over eight and one-half inches high, and over nine inches wide. The two-piece construction features a prodigious six-and-one-half by four-inch inletted head seat. The bottom displays an anchor line ring fastened with an old fence staple.

Wilson was born on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Though he is foremost remembered as a carver, he was also a boat builder, waterman, outdoorsman, and lighthouse keeper. He was an attendant to a number of Maine�s lighthouses, including the Great Duck Island Light, Goose Rocks Station on Fox Island, Two Lights Station on Cape Elizabeth, Marshalls Point Light at Port Clyde, and lastly Spring Point Light in Casco Bay.

According to art historian Gene Kangas, �His job as a lighthouse keeper provided financial security and ample time to facilitate rapid artistic advancement. Imaginative decoys and wildlife carving began to taking shape in an incredible variety of poses.�

Early regional traditions and requirements drove carvers to produce big solid decoys with modest paint patterns. �Seaworthiness, durability, practicality, effectiveness and affordability were essential considerations...Wilson�s genius is demonstrated by his ability to work within those existing traditions, yet elevate the Maine decoy to a higher level of artistic achievement.�

Wilson�s interests were by no means limited to decoys. He carved a variety of songbirds, decoratives, weathervanes, and big cats. A pair of Wilson�s tigers are featured in the American Identities exhibit, on display as a part of the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

In original paint with even gunning wear.

Literature: Gene Kangas, �Gus Wilson, Folk Artist,� Decoy Magazine, Lewes, DE, November/December 1994, pp. 8-13.

Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, p. 149, similar decoy illustrated.
Augustus Aaron Wilson - Red-breasted Merganser Drake With Open Bill

Augustus Aaron Wilson - Red-breasted Merganser Drake With Open Bill

Original
Estimate:

Price:

Net Price
Lot number: 93
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Red-Breasted Merganser Drake With Open Bill

Augustus Aaron "Gus" Wilson (1864-1950)

South Portland, ME, c. 1900

�Maine�s greatest and most prolific carver was Augustus Aaron �Gus� Wilson... Wilson had few equals among decoy makers as a sculptor, only his contemporary Ira Hudson in Virginia carved so wide a variety of forms. Wilson carved both heads and bodies freehand, holding the piece of wood in his hands, and this approach allowed him the tactile immediacy that characterizes his work. His best birds are at once powerful and imaginative.� -Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America

Merganser decoys have always held a special place amongst carvers and collectors of decoys and folk art. The species� animated forms, pronounced crests, and striking plumage lend themselves to artistic designs of virtually endless interpretations. From the earliest carvers of wooden decoys centuries ago to present day carvers, makers have been captivated by these seemingly playful diving birds. As collectors share this appreciation, many of the world-record auction results for top-tier carvers have come from merganser decoys, including such prestigious makers as Lothrop Holmes (1824-1899), Ira Hudson (1873-1949), and Captain Charles Osgood (1820-1886).

Wilson was born �Down East,� on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Though he is foremost remembered as a carver, Wilson was also a boatbuilder, waterman, outdoorsman, and a lighthouse keeper. He was an attendant to a number of Maine�s lighthouses, including the Great Duck Island Light, Goose Rocks Station on Fox Island, Two Lights Station on Cape Elizabeth, Marshall Point Light at Port Clyde, and lastly Spring Point Light in Casco Bay.

Wilson�s interests were by no means limited to decoys. He carved a variety of songbirds, decoratives, weathervanes, and big cats. A pair of Wilson tigers is featured in the American Identities exhibit, on display as a part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York.

This merganser sculpture epitomizes the decoy as American folk art. In 1992, the Maine-based firm Gary Guyette and Frank Schmidt Inc. stated, �It is certainly the finest Gus Wilson ever offered at auction,� and also simply described it as, �the best merganser.� The decoy later appeared on the front cover of Decoy Magazine�s 1992 Year in Review after setting a new world record at auction for the maker.

One of the pinnacle decoys to ever be offered at public auction, this boldly carved merganser features an exceptionally rendered cocked-back and turned head, along with raised-wing and uplifted-tail carving. The delicately carved open bill design is a treatment virtually never seen intact in working decoys and gives the bird an almost smiling air. Wilson�s attention to anatomy is commendable, with the very tip of the upper bill slightly curved and the inside of the lower bill accurately painted red. The intricate bill�s survival is remarkable given the bird�s use as a hunting decoy.

The bird measures over sixteen and one-half inches in length, and seven inches in both width and height. The two-piece construction features a prodigious four-and-one-half-inch by two-and-one-half-inch inletted head with a canted and scribed fit. It features pinched breast carving, tack eyes, full cheeks, and eyes grooves that taper to a pointed crest. The bottom displays original rigging with a screw eye and a pad-style weight.

�Gus had a broadness of interest and artist�s eye that allowed him to come up with birds of such merit that they rivaled the best of the others... Gus Wilson looked at waterfowl much the way the Ward brothers did. There was a similarity in their ability to capture an unusual pose and to produce a decoy that continues to enthrall�� -Maine decoy author and historian, Captain John Dinan.

In excellent original paint with gunning wear, a rub on the left wing, and an imperfection original to the carving under the left side of the tail.

Provenance: Jim Doherty Collection

Private Collection, acquired from the above in 2006

Literature: Gary Guyette and Frank Schmidt, Inc., �Important Waterfowl Decoys & Bird Carvings At Auction,� Ogunquit, ME, July 1992, lot 1, front cover, exact decoy illustrated.

Joe Engers, ed. �Decoy Magazine,� Burtonsville, MD, May/June 1992, p. 15, exact decoy illustrated.

Jackson Parker, �The [1992] Year in Review� Decoy Magazine, Burtonsville, MD, 1993, front cover, pp. 3, 11, 28, and 32, exact decoy illustrated.

Gary Guyette and Frank Schmidt, Inc., �North American Decoys At Auction,� Ogunquit, ME, July 1996, lot 466, exact decoy illustrated.

Joe Engers, ed., �The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys,� San Diego, CA , 1990, pp. 36-43, rigmate illustrated.

Robert Shaw, �Bird Decoys of North America,� New York, NY, 2010, pp. 147-149.
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