Great Blue Heron Decoy

Probably Long Island New York, circa 1900
Softwood body, hardwood neck and head, original paint, with custom base
Height 30 inches, width 29 ¾ inches, depth 5 inches

The best decoy carvers tended to intuitively select the key elements of shape and coloring of a particular species, reducing the carved form and stance of the bird to its essentials through simplification of both silhouette and paint toning, in essence abstracting its design. This great blue heron was conceived with elegance and economy, constructed in three sections, with the body carved from the solid and a tapering square-contoured neck with beveled edges that forms a mortise into a tenon joint of the carved head. Few antique decoys achieve the simplicity of line and dramatic attenuated form as this remarkably sculptural example. Prior to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada, which gave protected status to the species, this decoy may have served as a lure for hunters seeking herons for or used as a confidence decoy.

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