On the Hunt

Stephen B. O'Brien Jr.

A fourth-generation sportsman with a refined collector's eye, Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. launched Copley Fine Art Auctions in 2005 after almost fifteen years in the antiques trade. A trusted advisor to leading collectors, O'Brien opened Stephen O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts, LLC, in 1996.

Located on Newbury Street in Boston, Copley Fine Art Auctions specializes in antique decoys and 19th- and 20th-century American, sporting, and wildlife paintings. Please visit the website at for more information.

The Winter Sale 2012

  • Age 3, with a 16 lb.  gander

    Age 3, with a 16 lb. gander


I recently came across this rather amusing photograph of me while cleaning out a drawer of old photographs. I find it comical that at the age of three I possessed the strength to lift what appears to be a sixteen pound gander.  Upon seeing this photo, the first question that came to my mind was "Could I have ever ended up in a non-waterfowl related field?" With an avid hunter as a father and the past Chairman of National Audubon Society as my uncle and Godfather, the sporting field was a profession I couldn't refuse. Little has changed in the last forty years, I still love picking up Canada Geese. As goose-related lots 44, 254, 302 and others in this catalog attest, we at Copley have once again picked up some grand ganders.

We are excited to return to Wallace Hall in New York with our major offering of top-notch sporting art. Copley’s Winter Sale brought rave reviews last year, and with an additional one hundred lots, the event will be even bigger this year. Our specialists have canvassed the United States in search of the best artwork that the sporting field has to offer and their findings will not disappoint.

Carl Rungius’s In the Cedar Swamp, a large fresh-to-market oil of a bull moose and its mate leads the herd in the painting section. Alexander Pope’s oil of a dutiful English setter in Waiting for Its Master is an eminent canine work and Louis Agissez Fuertes' Wild Turkey rises to the same level in the gamebird realm. Stunning works by Frank W. Benson, George Browne, R. LaBarre Goodwin, Bob Kuhn, Ogden Pleissner, Aiden Lassell Ripley, and John Whorf offer us timeless renderings of days spent in the field.

Exceptionally rare preening life size carvings by Elmer Crowell include a curlew, greater yellowlegs, and black duck. A complete set of perhaps the finest twenty-five Crowell miniature waterfowl carvings ever to cross the auction block is sure to turn heads as will a full size green-winged teal that appears to soar across the wall. World class gunning birds by Charles Birch, John Blair, Jr., Newton Dexter and Dr. Clarence Gardiner, Bert Graves, Ira Hudson, Gus Moak, Harry V. Shourds, Herman Trinosky (rig), Obediah Verity, and the Ward brothers read like a Who's Who in the decoy carving Hall of Fame. The Mason Factory offerings in this sale are truly spectacular with carefully curated examples of mallards, canvasbacks, black ducks, golden plover, robin snipe, and willet occupying the realm of rarefied air amongst Mason and folk art collectors.

Wood carvings by Gus Wilson, John Halley Bellamy, Oscar Peterson, Charles Hart, Charles Perdew, and Lawrence Irvine offer the collector of folk art numerous possibilities. Navajo blankets, Nantucket baskets, and sporting books round out a sale that contains over five hundred hand-selected lots.

My advice, get to New York and make it for our Scotch and Smoked Salmon Preview Party on Saturday the 14th.  Enjoy all that New York has to offer and kick off Americana Week with friends and like-minded collectors in a relaxing setting befitting the sporting tradition. This auction and weekend is not to missed. We hope to see you there!

The Winter Sale 2012, Jan 14-16, 2012
Wallace Hall at The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
980 Park Avenue
New York, New York

For auction information, please visit Copley Fine Art Auctions.


More posts from On the Hunt

Nesting Canada Goose by A.  Elmer Crowell (1862-1952), East Harwich, MA, c.1900-1912, estimate: $600,000-900,000, at Copley's July 15-16 auction
  • July 12, 2009

Copley Fine Art Auctions' 660-lot Sporting Sale, including important Elmer Crowell carved birds from the Harry V. Long Collection as well as a fine selection of decoys, sporting art, folk ...

Read More

Canvasback Pair by John “Daddy” Holly (1819-1892) or James T.  Holly (1855-1935), Havre de Grace, MD, c.  1885 ($155,250)
  • August 07, 2009

On July 15 and 16, Copley Fine Art Auctions held its annual sporting sale in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The 2009 auction shot over its $3.5 million low estimate settling in at $4.16 ...

Read More

Galen Mercer - Tide Water Ducks
  • September 24, 2009

Through October 15, my gallery Stephen O’Brien Jr. Fine Arts will feature a solo exhibition of six major works by the artist, writer, and sportsman Galen Mercer.  The grandson of two ...

Read More

Chet Reneson - Winter Marsh
  • October 13, 2009

I am pleased to announce a new exhibition of paintings by renowned sporting artist Chet Reneson that will run from October 15 – December 15, 2009. The exhibition features a variety of ...

Read More


ArtfixDaily Artwire