Kathy's Pick: Artistry of Louisiana Decoy Carvers by Harvey J. Lewis

Presents decoys, old and contemporary and made by Louisiana carvers, as museum-quality art.

The oldest duck decoys, found in a Nevada cave, were made of reeds woven together and stuffed with feathers. It is unknown exactly when wood was first used to make decoys. During the period from 1850-1970, the decoys were made and used for hunting. In the 1970s, however, wooden decoys were being replaced with synthetic decoys. The wooden duck decoy, initially used strictly as a hunting tool, eventually transitioned to also become a decorative work of art.

Showcasing the artistic expertise of wooden decoy carvers who lived along Bayou Lafourche and along the Mississippi River below New Orleans, the author explains the different techniques that were used to create hunting decoys suited for use in each of these areas. Lewis discusses the carvers who created “Old Master Decoys” and “Contemporary Decoys,” and provides stunning color photographs of each carver’s work. Contemporary Decoys are further broken down into three styles: decorative decoys, decorative gunners, and hunting decoys. Miniatures and “Imaginatives” add to the variations available as well as differing carving and painting styles.

Some of the Louisiana Old Master carvers include Xavier Bourg from Larose, Augustan “Cook” Cantrelle from Cutoff, and Reme A. Roussel, Jr., from Raceland. The decoys range from mallards, blue-winged teal, gadwalls, canvasbacks, pintails, and wood ducks. Some of the decoys depicted are close to 100 years old and are truly impressive. The author also includes suggestions and tips about collecting decoys and the specifics to look for in a carved wooden decoy. Interesting and informative, this book presents an amazing selection of artistic excellence and amazing talent – all in the form of a duck decoy.

Availability: Book

Rating: **** Stars (I really liked it)

Reviewer: Kathy, Cataloging Librarian