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According to Goodwin historian, Larry Len Peterson, “The Surprise Party was completed in 1931 for a Brown & Bigelow calendar. It proved so popular that in 1933, one of their biggest customers, Day Lumber Corporation in Springfield, Massachusetts, wrote Goodwin regarding using it for one of their forthcoming calendars, ‘We are seriously considering using one of your bear subjects which is the one with the old bear up the tree, two cubs on the ground, and the old bear trying to get the honey out of the bee’s nest.’

“The mother bear is caught up a tree fighting off angry honey bees just as she also has to deal with her startled cubs and two approaching humans. Her whimsical dilemma makes for one of Goodwin’s most unforgettable predicament paintings.”

The Artist
Brown & Bigelow, St. Paul, MN
George B. Webster, St. Paul, MN, circa 1930
Present owner, by descent, circa 1960

Larry Len Peterson, Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting & Wildlife Artist (Hayden, ID and Tucson, AZ: The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction and Settlers West Galleries, 2001), page 290, illustrated print

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