"With happy memories of the past summer, he joins together the three pieces of his fly rod.... With what interest he notes the swelling of the buds on the maples ... and looks forward to the day when he is to try another cast! and ... with what pleasing anticipations he packs up his "traps," and leaves his business cares and the noisy city behind ....
Thus does the nineteenth-century writer, Thaddeus Norris, describe the delights of the "gentle art" of angling.1 Cherished as a gentleman's pastoral retreat from the clamor of urban life, the sport is commemorated in George Cope's Fisherman's Accoutrements. The West Chester, Pennsylvania artist, a skilled angler and huntsman whose career was devoted to painting subjects drawn from the Brandywine River Valley countryside, excelled in illusionistic still lifes of dead game and hunting and fishing paraphernalia.
In Fisherman's Accoutrements, Cope portrays no brace of trout from clear-running streams so prized by nineteenth-century anglers, but instead pictures the traditional equipment of the fly-fisherman, depicted in an orderly yet expectant array. Hung from a large brass nail is a jacket, the signature feature of Cope's hunt pictures of the 1880s and 1890s, overlapped by a net and split willow creel. The central grouping is flanked by a hat bedecked with hand-tied artificial flies, and a fly wallet set on a wooden shelf, whose stag's head decoration evokes associations with hunt and fishing clubs. Below these, another shelf supports the butt, mid, and tip sections of a fly rod, delineating a triangular composition whose opposite side is marked with a flask. Between rod and flask lie a tobacco pouch, pipe, and a book or journal, other appointments of the angler's contemplative recreation."-Elizabeth Jane Connell
I'm not sure if you can tell from looking at the image above, but by looking at a larger image of the painting - or, of course, the actual painting - you can tell that the rod isn't just any old fly rod, but a mortised fly rod. Could it be some old Phillippe rod lost to time? We'll never know but it's fun to imagine.
This painting is part of the permanent collection at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The "Butler" has reproduction rights to this image & you can purchase a high quality (framed or unframed) print of this painting on quality archival paper. In addition to this painting, the "Butler" is also home to many other important works of American Art. They have a woderful website worth checking out.