This handsome carving of a mourning dove perched on a piece of driftwood was created in 1971 by husband and wife team Robert and Virginia Warfield. When the couple moved to Jaffrey Center, New Hampshire, in 1960, they had already owned a shop called Littleton Crafts in Littleton Common, Massachusetts, where they sold furniture made by Robert and finished by Virginia. For the following 25 years, they created the "Warfield Birds," which Robert carved out of basswood and Virginia wood burned and then painted in oils. Their birds are in the permanent collections of museums such as the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; and the Museum of Natural History and Science in Cincinnati. They were sold in some of the most prominent galleries in the country.
This morning dove carving is a beautiful testament to their studies of birds in their natural habitats and to their exceptional talents. Its long pointed tail, unique among North American doves, has delineated feathers carved into it, as do the incredibly thin wigs, The overall colors are a buff tan to a pale brown, with black spots on the wings and black-bordered white tips on the tail feathers. The short legs and claws are painted metal and the glass eyes are circled in pale blue.
The dove measures about 10 1/2 inches from beak to tail with a height of 6 1/4 inches from the bottom of the driftwood base to the top of the head. The base is 8 1/2 inches long and 4 1/4 inches front to back and is hand signed on the bottom "Mourning Dove Warfield Jaffrey, NH 1971," making this one of their early carvings, before their use of a printed label.
The piece weighs 3/4 pound and is in superb condition. The beak is a bit shorter and less pointed than the ones on real mourning doves; the very tip may have been damaged over the last 50 years, but since it is painted, it is difficult to be certain. We do always mention any flaws, real or possible, in our descriptions.
Both Robert and Virginia Warfield are now deceased. Their birds come up for sale only occasionally. This mourning dove carving of theirs is a truly wonderful find for the bird lover and collector alike.