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According to Dr. Larry Len Peterson, author of Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting and Wildlife Artist, “By 1930, Philip R. Goodwin was the acknowledged master of sporting art. For several decades he had been the top artist for firearm giants like Winchester, Remington, Peters, Marlin, and Savage-Stevens. Goodwin’s 1919 painting, Horse and Rider, for Winchester is recognized throughout the world, symbolizing the company’s ties to the settling of the American West. But the Great Depression battered rifle sales. Compounding the manufacturers’ problems was a common belief that the country was duped into World War I to ensure repayment of debts owed to wealthy American bankers. Isolationism was sweeping the country. Once again troubles were building in Europe, and most Americans wanted no involvement with another war. Advertisers shunned away from hunting scenes. Guns were no longer the tools of sportsmen but were perceived as tools of war and cruelty. Advertisers only wanted Goodwin’s works that emphasized fishing, conservation, fire prevention, and fun in the great outdoors. On February 2, 1933, calendar company Brown & Bigelow tactfully advised Goodwin: ‘…we might change the action of the woodsmen to fishing, rather than hunting, because we have had hunting so many times and it seems the buyers ask if we have any fishing pictures more often than they do a hunting subject.’ Other patrons expressed the same sentiment.

“By this time Goodwin was well known for a series of five fishing scenes he had created for Horton Manufacturing of Bristol, Connecticut from 1914 to 1918. They are considered some of the finest fishing scenes ever created. Several of the settings were from around Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park inspired from the times Goodwin visited Charles M. Russell at Bull Head Lodge in 1907 and 1910. The Call of the Wild is a companion piece to Unexpected Guests (Coeur d’Alene, 2012). They represent the pinnacle of his bear-canoe predicament paintings. The setting for both is McDonald Falls. In The Call of the Wild, a rifle is present—not for hunting but for defense. The artists’ time together at Bull Head Lodge was filled with not only painting but also playing cowboy and Indian, sailing toy boats on Lake McDonald and hiking. One of their hikes certainly would have taken them to beautiful McDonald Falls near the north shore of the lake. Goodwin, an avid photographer, took many pictures with his Kodak of the Falls—one of the most beautiful settings in the Park. These photographs were used back in his studio in Mamaroneck, New York to complete several of his most memorable late-life masterworks.”

The Artist
Private Collection, Columbus, Ohio, 1915
Present owner, by descent

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