A Fine Lithograph of Trout Fishing by Ogden Pleissner
Ogden Pleissner. “June Trout
1967. Color lithograph. Edition of 350. Sheet
size: 22 7/8 x 30 3/4" with full
margins. Frame size: 26 1/2 x 34 3/4". Privately published by
Theodore Gordon Flyfishers. Printed by Frost & Reed, Ltd.,
Bristol and London, England. Signed by artist in pencil below the
image at l. r.: Ogden M. Pleissner. Publisher’s and printer’s
embossed chops. Fine. Handsome archival presentation in original
frame with new mat and museum-quality OP3 Plexiglas.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Ogden
Pleissner applied his gifts as an artist in the realist tradition of
Eakins and Homer to the depiction of the sporting life, creating some
of the finest shooting and fishing scenes of the twentieth century.
Born and raised in Brooklyn in 1905, Pleissner was a city boy who studied at
the Art Students League in Manhattan. As a teen, however, he spent
summers at a boys' camp in Dubois, Wyoming, where he frequently
sketched and painted the magnificent scenery that surrounded him. His
experiences in the West instilled a life-long love of the outdoors
and influenced his career in the direction of landscape painting,
particularly as a backdrop for sporting scenes. He brought to these
landscapes a fine sense of composition, superb draftsmanship, an
exacting eye for detail, and the masterful use of color. He also
possessed an uncanny ability to capture the human body in action, a
skill that was well suited for images of the “gentlemen’s
pursuits” to which he himself was devoted. Because he knew
first-hand the proper techniques for shooting and fly fishing, he was
singularly gifted at capturing the excitement and tension of the
sporting moment—the bird just flushed, the trout just hooked.
The lithograph offered here depicts a quieter moment
in an angler’s day, the moment of anticipation after the line
has been cast. Based on one of Pleissner’s superb watercolors,
the lithograph shows a fly fisherman who has waded into a calm place
created by a natural dam of dead branches in a rapidly flowing river.
The season is June, a peak time for trout fishing when the black
flies have hatched and the days are long.
Pleissner produced the print in
1967—at the peak of his career—for Theodore Gordon
Flyfishers, Inc., in the year of their incorporation. The nonprofit
angling organization was founded to promote catch-and-release fly
fishing and sound conservation practices for streams and rivers.
Given the organization’s investment in the preservation of
fly-fishing standards, the choice of Pleissner to create their
inaugural image was meaningful. Here was an artist who understood the
nuances of the sport. With his artistic sensitivity to weather, time
of year, and light, he was able to locate the sportsman in a setting
not only of great natural beauty but also with such realism that the
image can call forth in any angler a memory of the best fishing day
he ever had.
This is a wonderful print by one of
the best interpreters of the American sporting life, whose
exceptional skills produced work admired equally by art collectors
and fishing enthusiasts.
Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner (Boston: David R.
Godine, 1984), pp. 73, 99, 107–108; Limited Edition Print no.
16, illustrated on p. 108.