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Proceeds from this sale will benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

According to Goodwin biographer Dr. Larry Len Peterson, “This masterwork is one of the finest sporting art collectibles of the twentieth century. It is a stellar example of why for over a hundred years Goodwin has been recognized as America’s sporting artist. For example, early on famed author Jack London appreciated his genius and called on Goodwin to illustrate what would become one of the greatest and most endearing publications in American history, The Call of the Wild (1903). Likewise, Theodore Roosevelt, the most celebrated hunter in the world, commissioned the young wunderkind to illustrate his classic African Game Trails (1909).

“Philip Russell Goodwin was born on September 16, 1881 – not 1882 as often erroneously written – in Norwich, Connecticut. Early on he was recognized as a child prodigy, attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design when he was only fourteen. He soon caught the eye of America’s most famous illustrator, Howard Pyle, who taught such greats as Maxfield Parrish, N. C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Frank Schoonover, W. H. D. Koerner, and Frank Stick. Pyle started the Brandywine School in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where most of the great illustrators would train. In 1907 when he visited his friend Charles M. Russell in Montana, Goodwin had already illustrated a dozen books; dozens of magazine articles; three covers of the great magazine of the day, The Saturday Evening Post; and countless sporting advertisements – one of the most famous would be Winchester’s Horse and Rider (1919). Goodwin was only twenty-five years old.

“A popular subject during the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’ (1880-1930) was sporting art – hunting and fishing the kings. Why did hunting become so popular and inspired such great artists as Goodwin? Look no further than Theodore Roosevelt, the American West’s president. He was idolized by generations of citizens. What was manlier than hunting? In many ways, he carried the baton of Western identity handed off by Buffalo Bill Cody, as he championed the strenuous life. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a fine tribute to both sports. The title of the painting has been an idiom for a dilemma for over 600 years. The predicament lies with the outdoorsman in the back of the canoe. With a fish on the line, does he pursue a risky shot at the bull moose in the distance; or as a thoughtful companion, grab the fishing net and haul in the trophy fish?

“Now the real story. A lithograph of this image appeared on a rare 1927 Gerlach Barklow calendar, which came with an envelope and informational insert – a printed letter addressed to ‘Dear Ed’ and signed ‘Jim’ – detailing Jim’s fishing trip. Organized in 1907, the company was located in Joliet, Illinois, and within a decade became one of the largest calendar and advertising businesses in America. Typically, companies suggested subjects to their illustrators – fishing being the most popular at the time. But this request was special. The ‘Jim’ may have been Jim Mackeever, vice-president of the company who supervised Goodwin’s art submissions, advised him on subjects, and critiqued his pieces. ‘Ed’ may have been his boss, Edward J. Barklow, one of the founders. After an eventful summer fishing trip, Mackeever most likely commissioned Goodwin to recreate his unforgettable adventure. The insert mentioned that the bass – described as a ‘whale’ – had eluded every angler for the entire season. Mackeever also noted that when his friend Sam ‘spied’ the moose, ‘Sam grabbed the rifle and sat petrified, actually between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ and whispered, ‘What the hell do I do?’ Jim said, ‘Get the bull.’ But just after Sam’s shot missed the mark, the fishing line snapped. Jim lamented, I ‘tried to please everybody, pleased none. We lost ‘em both.’ Fortunately, Goodwin left the outcome to the viewer’s imagination.”

Gerlach Barklow Company, Joliet, Illinois
Private collection, Illinois

Larry Len Peterson, Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting & Wildlife Artists, Coeur d’Alene Art Auction and Settlers West Galleries, 2001, pp. 197-98, 201
Tim Smith and Michelle Smith, Joliet’s Gerlach Barklow Calendar Company, Arcadia Publishing, 2009
Larry Len Peterson, The American West Reimagined: Gems from the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, 2021, pp. 381-91

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