Sale 0517 Lot 85


American (1905-1983)


An avid hunter and angler, Ogden Minton Pleissner fluidly translated the sport into his art. His most succesful compostions, including the present example, realistically depict the landscape and figures to evoke the action and feeling of the hunt. As an artist, he is best remembered for his realistic sporting scenes and his adept handling of watercolor. Pleissner painted in America, Europe and Bermuda.


Pleissner was born in Brooklyn in 1905 and took an interest in painting at a young age. His parents encouraged his artistic endevours. His father was intersted in arts and music and his mother was an accomplished violinist. As an adolescent he studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan. In the summer, Pleissner visited dude ranches and youth camps in DuBois, Wyoming. There he sketched the images of the American West; landscapes, animals, Native Americans and cowboys. His experiences sketching outdoors would influence his later works painted en plein air.


As a young, emerging artist Pleissner initially struggled to find gallery repre-sentation. His work was exhibited at Harlow MacDonald’s  Fifth Avenue gallery where it sold well. From then on he became a successful artist, and his work is still highly sought after by collectors today. In 1932 the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased one of his paintings, Backyards, Brooklyn, making him, at the time, the youngest artist represented in the collection.


During World War II, Pleissner served as an artist illustrating for the United States Air Force and Life Magazine. He used watercolors because they were a portable and quick-drying medium. This experience undoubtedly contributed his facility with watercolors and his aptitude for drawing figures in action. After the War, Pleissner continued to paint using watercolor as a preferred medium.


Pleissner excelled at illustrating sporting scenes. As a sportsmen himself, he knew the correct postures, apparal and equipment. He sketched on-site and traveled extensively in search of new subjects and in pursuit of the sport. His biographer Peter Bergh noted, “One can always sense, in Pleissner’s sporting pictures, that he is paintng the things he likes to look at in the places he likes to be.”


The present lot, Grouse Hunt, is a remarkable example of Pleissner’s adept handling of watercolor and his aptitude for depicting sporting scenes. In the composition, Pleissner captures the fleeting moment when the grouse crosses the firing line. The hunter, his dog, a short-haired pointer, and the grouse are frozen in those few suspenseful seconds, the most exciting moment of the hunt.

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