Perch

  • John V. Snow, Sr., Perch, 1990, basswood, copper, lead, and brass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 1991.103.4

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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. During the Depression, many hunters and fishermen turned again to fish spearing for survival. The decoys from this period are simpler, focusing on realistic shapes, colors, and movement rather than fanciful decoration (Steven Michaan, American Fish Decoys, 2003).

Title
Perch
Artist
Date
1990
Location
Dimensions
1 3/8 x 6 1/8 x 2 1/4 in. (3.5 x 15.6 x 5.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the artist

Mediums
Mediums Description
basswood, copper, lead, and brass
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish – perch
  • Object – other – fish decoy
Object Number
1991.103.4
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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Fish Decoy

ca. 1900
carved and painted wood, painted tinned iron sheet, ferrous eye hook, painted brass screw eyes, lead weight, and painted leather