Although we have not been fishing in actual waters this month, we have, as always, been trolling for antiques. Our most recent catch in the fish category is this appealing pair of oil on canvas portraits of a landlocked salmon and a brook trout. The body shapes of the salmon and brook trout are fairly accurate, as is their coloration. They are slightly naïve renditions rather than perfect anatomical representations, indicating that the artist was not academically trained.
Both fish are shown hooked in realistic ways – on a side edge of the mouth for the salmon and the bottom edge of the mouth for the brook trout – situations that the artist had likely experienced firsthand.
The fish are painted on a faux birch bark background, which is not an uncommon treatment for fish still life paintings, such as these two by Walter Steward from our past inventory.
We have also found fish portraits painted directly on birch bark, such as the trout below.
Another fish/birch bark association we’ve encountered is commemorative silhouettes of actual fish traced and cut from birch bark, such as the one below that memorializes a fish caught on the Tobique River in New Brunswick in the 1940s.
A much earlier birch bark trout silhouette was made by Percival Baxter (1876-1969), the 53rd Governor of Maine and after whom Baxter State Park is named, when he was just seven years old.