Shilstone vs. Pleissner – You Be The Judge

In the realm of Sporting Art Watercolors, Arthur Shilstone is considered by most to be the legitimate successor to Ogden Pleissner. The comparisons are many and accurate and most in the Sporting world support this claim.

Let’s look at the facts:

Shilstone – Born 1922, lived to just shy of his 98th Birthday in 2020. A classically-trained artist, a master of drawing, figure work, composition and designing imagery that was not only visually appealing but interesting to view. Received his degree from Pratt Institute. 

Pleissner – Born 1905, lived to the age of 78 in 1983. A classically-trained artist, master of drawing, figure work, composition and designing imagery that was not only visually appealing but interesting to view. Taught at Pratt institute at roughly the same time Shilstone attended. 

Both were members of “The Greatest Generation”. Both served in WWII and captured the war in imagery. Both had distinguished illustration careers and eventually transitioned their focus into Sporting Art, following a passion for the outdoors and Sporting pastimes. 

Simply put, their paths were very, very similar. 

Shilstone’s Sporting Art has graced the pages and covers of nearly every major Sporting publication. He held a 30+ year run with Gray’s Sporting Journal, arguably one of the finest Sporting Art publications in the market. 

Here is where the similarities diverge:

I do not question the $$ positions Pleissner will command at auction these days. But I do encourage everyone to assess the incredible value of Shilstone’s work relative to the market and, namely, Pleissner.

I have lost count of how many art collectors and dealers alike have told me that Shilstone reminds them of Pleissner – and, in fact, vice versa. Art is subjective, of course, but when you get down to the mechanics of creating a powerful Sporting image – one that is convincing and brilliant at the same time, there really is nothing that Pleissner could do that Shilstone could not, and vice versa. Both enlisted many similar techniques and “tricks of the trade” and both had a firm grasp in draftsmanship as well as the subject matter – Key elements of a well-executed painting. 

Case in point – Last month a Pleissner 14×21 watercolor commanded almost $28,000 and an 18×28 watercolor commanded $48,000!

Four Shilstone watercolors of roughly the same size (18×24) can be bought for the price of that one Pleissner at $48k.

Shilstone is the Last of the Best in terms of Sporting Art watercolors. He was a bridge to a previous generation of practitioners, given his formal training, age and level of proficiency and expertise he brought to every creation. There will likely not be in the future such a skilled and talented brush in the Sporting Art watercolor realm.

I’ll be happy to discuss with you any of the claims I have put forth here. Take a look at the images below as well as the images on our website, and even do a quick Google search for Pleissner’s Sporting Art watercolors – and You be the Judge.

-Fred Polhemus | | (802) 598-8301

All works by Arthur Shilstone below are available for purchase through Sportsman’s Palette. All works by Ogden Pleissner below are found in ‘The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner’ written by Peter Bergh and published by David R Godine, 1984.

And a few more by Shilstone for your consideration….

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‘The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner’ can be thrifted & found online anywhere from eBay to Abe Books. 
‘Arthur Shilstone: A Lifetime of Drawing & Painting’ by Fred Polhemus can be purchased from Sportsman’s Palette.
Price: $45 + $10 shipping & handling

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