Reid’s earlier work was in part characterized by his study of Haida artist and Chief, Charles Edenshaw. This particular brooch is styled after an Edenshaw tattoo design and here you can see the original sketch, which is part of the permanent collection of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. When Reid completed this Dogfish Brooch he told the owner he felt that this was the best piece that he had done to date.
The following is an excerpt from Cheryl Shearar’s “Understanding Northwest Coast Art”
A small bottom-feeding shark, the dogfish is not considered appealing as food. People generally are wary of this fierce, solitary, wandering creature. The Nuu-chah-nulth feared giant malicious Shark monsters who lived in deep holes under cliffs and liked to eat canoes.
Dogfish is an important crest and mythic being among the Haida and is one of Haida artist Robert Davidson’s favourite subjects. Haida artist Bill Reid also created many impressive designs.