Andrew Newell Wyeth (American, 1917-2009)
Corn and Grist
Signed "Andrew Wyeth" in ink l.l., identified and dated "1976" on a label from Nicholas Wyeth, Inc., New York, affixed to the frame backing.
Watercolor on paper, sight size 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. (54.6 x 75.0 cm), framed.
Condition: Not examined out of frame.
Provenance: From the collection of Howard P. Diamond, M.D., New York, a prominent nasal plastic surgeon, purchased from Nicholas Wyeth, Inc., in 1976.
N.B. Andrew Wyeth was an iconic figure in American painting of the 20th century. Son and student of famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth, the young man seemed destined to follow his father's footsteps yet developed his own individual style. His father's illustrations took as subjects active figures and colorful places from around the word, while Andrew Wyeth found artistic inspiration in friends and family and his immediate surroundings of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and Port Clyde, Maine. His palette, too, was limited, choosing earth-bound shades of brown, green, white, gray, and black rather than the vibrant colors of his father.
Andrew Wyeth painted mainly in watercolor and tempera, and he was a master of the technique described as drybrush. In an interview with friend and Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Hoving, Wyeth explained, "I work in drybrush when my emotion gets deep enough into the subject. So I paint with a smaller brush, dip it into color, splay out the brush and bristles, squeeze out a good deal of the moisture and color with my fingers so that there is only a very small amount of paint left. Then when I stroke the paper with the dried brush, it will make various distinct strokes at once, and I start to develop the forms of whatever object it is until they start to have real body...Drybrush is layer upon layer. It is what I would call a definite weaving process. You weave the layers of drybrush over and within the broad washes of watercolor." (1)
However, for Wyeth technique was never an end in itself, nor was realism. He wrote, "You can have all the technique in the world and can paint the object, but that doesn't mean you get down to the juice of it all. It's what's inside you, the way you translate the object - and that's pure emotion." (2) Wyeth composed his works with an underlying abstraction, examining them upside down to make sure he was getting what he wanted.
Wyeth's famous images such as Christina's World have come to represent America as much as Grant Wood and Andy Warhol, but throughout his career Wyeth's works were both loved and scorned, precisely because he chose not to be part of international modern art movements. One art historian, in response to a 1977 survey in Art News magazine about the most underrated and overrated artists of the century, nominated Wyeth for both categories. (3)
1. Thomas Hoving, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976.
2. John Toft, Andrew Wyeth on Watercolor, Newsletter 161, Watercolour New Zealand, Inc. http://www.watercolournewzealand.nz/tutorials/article_andrew_wyeth_by_john_toft.htm (accessed 8/17/16)
3. Michael Kimmelman, Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91, obituary in the New York Times, January 16, 2009.
This work will be included in the forthcoming Andrew Wyeth catalogue raisonne. The building depicted in this watercolor is an 18th-century mill called Brinton's Mill. From 1958 through the early 1960's, Betsy Wyeth restored the property, comprised of three buildings including this mill, a millhouse, a granary. The painting shows the side roadway into the Wyeth property in Chadds Ford with the millrace that feeds the mill along the right side. The work was painted in late winter/early spring of 1976, before the grass stared to "green up." The would like to thank Mary Landa, from the Andrew Wyeth Office, Brandywine River Museum of Art, for her assistance with this lot.
The frame was opened on September 16 to check for condition. The watercolor is laid down on another sheet of watercolor paper, slightly larger than the original sheet. Those two sheets are then laid on a thiner sheet of white paper, which has been affixed to the back matboard. We did not fully expose the work to measure the sheet size, but it is very close to the sight size of 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. There is a very tiny loss to the u.l. corner of the original sheet.
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.