A remarkable, large, signed and dated 1929 oil painting by one of the leading “cabin art” calendar artists Frank Stick. Known best for his genre illustrations for the Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Company, Stick also worked for many early 20th century magazine titles including Collier‘s, Sports Afield and The Saturday Evening Post creating rugged outdoorsman scenes culled from his own experiences. This is a unique offering by the artist, featuring a pretty Pre-Raphaelite Viking mother and her newborn child emerging from a long winter, a cherished example of fine American illustration art from the Charles Martignette collection.
Frank Leonard Stick is best known for his outdoor-themed paintings, especially those relating to hunting and fishing. He was born February 10, 1884 in Huron, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota). His father, David Leonard Stick, was a native of Vinton, Iowa and president of the National Bank of Dakota. His mother was Lydia Jane Marcellus Stick, originally from Rome, New York. Frank Stick spent his boyhood in Sioux City, Iowa, hunting, fishing, trapping, and trying his hand at a variety of part-time jobs.
In 1899, the Stick family moved to Oglesby, Illinois, a small mining town. Frank’s father and older brother, Claude, operated a grocery store owned by the Bents Coal Mine Company. Frank helped as a stock and delivery boy. While there, he formed a lasting friendship with Ed Platte, who also worked with Frank at the family store. He and Ed spent much time hunting, fishing, and camping.
After two years at the family grocery, Frank struck out on his own, heading north to the relative wilds of Wisconsin. He trapped during the winter and served as a hunting and fishing guide in the summer and fall. The sketches he made during this period were for his own enjoyment, but he discovered he could sell his written accounts of hunting and fishing experiences to outdoor magazines.
These experiences allowed Frank to cover most of the upper Great Plains and Rockies, as far west as Montana, and always with his pencil and brush. He realized he could better document his observations of wildlife and wilderness in paintings rather than words, and he decided to seek professional art instruction.
Frank enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute in 1904 and sold his first painting to Sports Afield magazine after four months of instruction. His teachers recognized his talent, advised him to pursue a career as an artist, and also recommended he seek advanced instruction from Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1906, Stick moved to Wilmington and received guidance from Pyle, one of the masters of illustration. Among the other distinguished American illustrators who were studying under Pyle at the time were N.C. Wyeth, Frank E. Schoonover, Anton Otto Fischer, and Harvey T. Dunn. Frank married Ada Maud Hayes in 1908, who at the time was an artist’s model.
He moved to Interlaken, New Jersey, and remained there until 1929. During this period, he was very successful, and his work appeared in Sports Afield, Field and Stream, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines. He also co-wrote and illustrated “The Call of the Surf” with Van Campen Heilner and several articles by Zane Grey, mostly in the magazine Outdoor America, published by the Izaak Walton League.
By 1929, Stick was so disillusioned by the trends in art and “turning out pictures on order,” that he closed his studio at Pine Cove and vowed never again to paint for pay. He moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. During this time, he was a driving force behind the creation of Roanoke Island National Park, the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area. He, along with Lawrence Rockefeller, was also instrumental in the creation of Virgin Islands National Park.