Fish Decoy

  • Unidentified, Fish Decoy, 20th century, painted wood, aluminum, lead, ground glass, and thumbtacks, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.51

Luce Center Label

Carved fish decoys are one of the earliest forms of American folk art. Hunters around the Bering Sea first used small bone or ivory decoys for ice fishing around 1000 AD. They believed that the decoys embodied the innua, or inner spirit of the fish. The practice spread to upstate New York and the Great Lakes, where it became a tourist industry with many communities growing around prime fishing areas. Ice fishing was banned in 1905, however, because the popularity of the sport had brought about a serious decline in large game fish.

Title
Fish Decoy
Artist
Date
20th century
On View
Dimensions
1 1/4 x 7 1/4 x 3 in. (3.2 x 18.3 x 7.5 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums
Mediums Description
painted wood, aluminum, lead, ground glass, and thumbtacks
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish
Object Number
1986.65.51
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

More Artworks from the Collection

ca. 1940s
carved and painted wood, painted aluminum sheet, painted ferrous eye hooks, and lead weights
ca. 1940
carved and painted wood, painted tinned iron sheet, bent and painted ferrous metal staple, lead weight, and pinhead eyes
20th century
carved, incised, pyroengraved, and stained wood; galvanized iron sheet; ferrous eye hook; lead weight; and glass eye
ca. 1930s
carved, painted, and stenciled wood; painted copper sheet; painted ferrous tack eyes; and lead weights