Next week's issue of SI will bring, in the spirit of the season, the shoveller and 15 of his fine-feathered friends, among them the lesser scaup, the gadwall and the bufflehead. They are all familiar friends, too, of the more than two million unfeathered duck hunters who will be waiting for them in frosty duck blinds during the coming weeks, as they travel down the four great American flyways on their annual migrations.
But to non-duck-hunting readers of this magazine, who see them simply as specks against a fall sky, the wild ducks in SI will be, I think, if not familiar friends, at any rate highly welcome acquaintances.
When our editors decided to present a portrait gallery of who's who in duckdom, the problem of selecting an artist was no problem at all. Athos Menaboni stands today among the top living portrayers of bird life as firmly as John James Audubon, who died just over 100 years ago, stands for the best and finest in the long tradition of bird painting.
Using very thin oil paints on specially treated panels, Menaboni has given his birds, as no painter before him, the metallic sheen peculiar to plumage. In some other respects Menaboni has been able to advance beyond Audubon's realism, thanks in part to certain advantages not available in an earlier day. For one thing, he has at his command numerous photographic studies of birds in flight; for another, he is able to keep specimens for extended examination, by means of modern refrigeration.
SI was pleased to lend the originals of its paintings to the comprehensive showing of Menaboni's works from October 31st to November 14th at the Ida Cason Gardens in Chipley, Georgia.
Fletcher Martin will also appear in SI for the first time next week with his study of the scene in Marciano's dressing room immediately after the last heavyweight championship fight. Martin's works hang in numerous permanent collections, including the Modern Art. He was an amateur boxer during four years in the Navy, thought of turning professional but decided he could go farther with brushes than with gloves. His painting is the first original work commissioned for SI's Sport in Art department.
Our readers have already seen, in the works of Thomas Eakins and George Bellows in Sport in Art, examples of how the world of art and the world of sport have drawn from and enlarged each other. The works of Artists Menaboni and Martin are a continuing expression of the belief of SI's editors that these worlds will always make as happy a meeting as mainsails and stiff breezes.