Remembering Keith Cardnell – 1947-2021
Keith Cardnell had a huge impact on the Sporting Art market here in the U.S. – Literally and figuratively. In his relatively short career in the realm of Sporting Art, Cardnell pushed the boundaries of previous norms in this market and was willing to create at such magnitude and with such discipline for exactness and conviction in such large formats that he really brought to the market imagery the likes of which had been previously unseen. This often required a time frame of anywhere from six months to one year of work on a single canvas, painstakingly executing the painting in disciplined stages and slowly but steadily revealing the image and narrative in a way that, upon completion, created the illusion of one literally being able to step into the image. To stand before a finished work at this size is quite awe-inspiring.
Cardnell created the largest Flats Fishing painting known to be available to the market at 54″ X 92″. To put this into perspective, that translates to 4.5 feet tall by 7’8″ wide. I am not aware of any Flats Fishing painting, nor are any of my colleagues, created on canvas at this size. It was the first of its kind in 2019 and took nearly a year to create, exemplifying the vastness of a Flats setting and the relatively minor role the angler and guide held within the overall composition.
Cardnell was equally at home with painting Trout and Freshwater subjects, both in Eastern and Western scenes – Quite remarkable when you consider his home was Rochester, Kent, UK. On several occasions, he visited the U.S. and Canada to see friends and explore various regions, always keeping an eye out for interesting reference material he might use for future paintings.
Fellow angler and friend Warren Stern offered a wonderful essay on the observations of Cardnell’s ‘From A Perfect Vantage’ in Theodore Gordon Flyfishers ‘Gordon’s Quill.’
In the 12 or so years I represented Keith, he created only 12 Sporting Art paintings exclusively for the U.S. market. As with other classically-trained artists I have had the privilege of representing that have passed before him – Stanley Meltzoff, Al Barnes and, most recently, Arthur Shilstone – another brush has been silenced and is not likely to be replaced. The additional contributions Cardnell may have made to the U.S. Sporting Art market we will never know, but we do know the impact he has had on this market during his short but fascinating career.
Here is his last creation – A Flats Fishing subject he was just finishing up at the time of his passing – Into The Last Glowing Embers Of The Day – Oil on Canvas – 33 X 66. Perhaps a most fitting image on the close of a brilliant career.
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