Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, March 4, 1950.
The Post wrote the following commentary on the cover artwork: "'Blessed Izaak Walton!' quoth Stevan Dohanos as he glanced into the basement of Fellow Townsman Fred W. Dayton, of Westport, Connecticut. For he had found that rarity, a Post cover paintable right on the spot, without adding or subtracting detail. Dayton, one of those hobbyizing characters who labor for the love of it, concocts casting flies from wild-duck feathers, bucks' tails, women's hats, and so on, and he murmurs dreamily, 'My masterpiece eventually will come from the hides of two fighting cocks.' When Dayton's friends catch bigger fish with his flies than he does, he is morose. Dohanos is a kind of deep-sea fisherman; occasionally he ventures a little way out beyond his depth, drops a line, and sometimes there is a little something on it." (The Saturday Evening Post, March 4, 1950, p. 3)
Remembered for his 125 covers of the Saturday Evening Post between 1942 and 1958, Dohanos also designed over forty stamps for the United States Postal Service, and served as design coordinator for the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. Originally from Ohio, he also co-founded the Famous Artists School in Westport, Connecticut along with famous illustrators Norman Rockwell and Robert Fawcett, among others.
While Stevan Dohanos is widely seen as one of the most talented American illustrators of his generation, he long considered himself a spiritual child of the Ashcan School of painting. Like Robert Henri, John Sloan and William Glackens before him, Dohanos painted things as he saw them. A keen observer of the world, "the humble, the homely and the drab," Dohanos found beauty in the ordinary, often times very American, things of life. The subject of the present work surely reflects Dohanos' painstaking attention to detail, as he depicts an elderly gentleman in the process of making artificial flies. His eyes fixed on his labor, the man is completely oblivious to our presence and already grins at the thrilling thought of his next fly-fishing adventure. As the artist himself explained: "From cradle to the grave we are surrounded with natural and man-made objects, many of which can serve as a theme for a painting. Almost any subject when treated with care and respect can relate to the human condition in a meaningful and poignant way. This is the intent of many of my pictures." Full of colorful details and surprising props, the present painting's level of minutiae echoes the man's patience as he delicately sews feathers, ribbons and thread together - two activities which both require their participant's full attention and are labors of love.