“No Hunting on This Farm” by W.S. McCleary
Artist: W. S. McCleary
Carved Single Plank of Wood (Maple ?)
15 3/4” x 41” x 1/4″
McCleary, a barber by trade, carved in high relief this well balanced plaque at Van Wert, Ohio in 1893. Within the carved legend he notes “MY FIRST ATTEMPT” probably indicating McCleary’s first ambitious undertaking with a pocket knife. The knife used, which was once counter sunk into the board, has been pilfered. The following year he constructed a guitar employing many of the scenes depicted here on the back board of the instrument. The exhibit titled “Appalachian Strings” held at the Decorative Arts Center in Lancaster, Ohio curated by Tom Queen in the summer of 2012 displayed this remarkable guitar (dated 1894) which can be viewed by googling the artist or Mr. Queen. The plaque, imaged here, accomplished a year prior, acted as a template for the carving on the guitar. Thought and detail are notable including the collapsed megaphylls of the ferns at the feet of either identified dog and the self portrait of the well dressed carver. Squirrels, owls (two holding a small rodent in their talons), quail, dogs, indescript birds, a rabbit and an armed human are depicted throughout the landscape and within the skeletal trees.
Condition: A long horizontal crack extending from viewer’s right to the date has been cleanly and securely glued. A second 8” crack extending from the opposite side at approximately the same longitude is unaddressed. Scattered minute losses to carvings require searching to note. A convex bow to the single board extends less than a 1/4” at the mid point when laying the board against a flat wall. Surface having never been covered with a hard sealer nor paint is in a fine state of preservation.