Sunday, January 20, 2013

Historic Paddle Art: Thomas Davies - Indian Encampment Paddle

Here's an illustration of a decorated canoe paddle by British Artist, Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812). This painting is dated to 1788 and features some bark canoes and wigwams. The 2nd standing figure from the right is holding a short canoe paddle decorated in a yellow and red pattern.

A View near Point Levy opposite Quebec with an Indian Encampment, Taken in 1788 (1788 )
 Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812)
watercolour over graphite on laid paper
35.1 x 52.5 cm

Here's a close up of the paddle. A distinctive checkered pattern on the blade along with some decorative dots.

Davies' Paddle Closeup

I recall seeing a similar pattern earlier and is nearly identical to the colours and design depicted in William Armstrong's much later painting, Hudson's Bay Story, Fort William (see earlier post HERE). It's also been replicated in an exhibit at the Canadian Canoe Museum.

William Armstrong
Hudson's Bay Store, Fort William c. 1860-1870
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30490)

Armstrong's Paddle Closeup

Canadian Canoe Museum Replica

This checkerboard style pattern is also found in some decorative canoe models in the  collection of the Museum of Ethnography in Neuch√Ętel. While those model paddles feature different colours, they are dated to 1799 , much closer to Davies' original painting date so they seem reflective of the simple geometric designs of the period...

Model Canoe Paddles and gear dated to 1799
Museum of Ethnography in Neuch√Ętel

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