About the Event

Commemorating the Catch: Fish Carvings of Stephen R. Smith

May 18, 2019 – December 31, 2019

The art of fish carving was popular in England from the Victorian era until the late 1930’s. Models were carved from wood in half relief, painted and mounted to commemorate a special catch in a technique that was both imaginative artistry and practical skill, an alternative to the tradition of taxidermy.

Stephen R. Smith carved his first fish over two decades ago and accepts a limited number of commissions each year. His clients are anglers who desire more than a photograph to immortalize an outstanding sporting moment. He uses the image of the catch as purely a starting point. Smith’s inspiration comes from his venerable knowledge of aquatic species as well as his client’s recollections of their prize fish, which, as Smith states “even with its subjective limitations, can be a significant help in putting a project together.”

The American Museum of Fly Fishing has brought together a selection of Smith’s work for a new exhibit: Commemorating the Catch: Fish Carvings of Stephen R. Smith. Thanks to the participation of lenders from across the country, numerous examples of Smith's extraordinary work, along with panels depicting the stages of his craft from the raw materials to each unique depiction of an angler’s success, will be on display together for the first time. In addition, the exhibit will also include some of the earliest examples of fish carvings from the private collection of AMFF Trustee David Nichols, lending a fascinating historical perspective to this highly specialized art form.

Join us on May 18 at 5 p.m. for a reception celebrating the opening of this unique exhibition.