Andrew Newell Wyeth (1917-2009)
signed "Andrew Wyeth" upper right
watercolor, 8 1/2 by 15 in.
M. Knoedler & Co., New York label on back
Andrew Newell Wyeth was born in 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, to Carolyn Bockius Wyeth and the well-known American artist N.C. Wyeth. Andrew was the youngest of five siblings, and after years of home tutoring and art instruction from his father, Wyeth achieved his own extraordinary fame and success for his paintings. Wyeth drew heavily from his personal experience for the subjects of his works, focusing intensely on the individuals and environments around him and depicting them in the realist tradition. Two families and two locations influenced him in particular: the Kuerners in Pennsylvania and the Olsons in Maine.
Wyeth’s paintings of Maine lent the artist his earliest commercial success. He recalled, “When I was eighteen or nineteen, he [N.C. Wyeth] showed some of my watercolors, primarily of Maine, to William Macbeth who had the only gallery in New York that exclusively handled American paintings. And Macbeth put on an exhibition and the show was a big success. Sold out.”
Wyeth also noted, “I loved the works of Winslow Homer, his watercolors...which I studied intently so I could assimilate his various watercolor technique.” The fast-drying quality of watercolor compelled Wyeth to paint quickly. As Beth Venn, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Newark Museum in New Jersey, writes, “it is Wyeth’s work in watercolor that most clearly demonstrates the astonishing depth and range of his technical and expressive capacity.”
This 1954 watercolor is a study for a larger tempera painting, done in the same year, titled “Tomorrow The Outer Shoals.” A catalog entry from a Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibit that included the tempera painting states, “These white, newly painted lobster buoys hanging in the darkness, like ghosts in a dark room, make an interesting composition. It is questionable if Wyeth would have painted them, however, if they had not belonged to Betsy’s brother-in-law who, after a career in business in New York City, and service with the Navy in the South Seas, returned to manage the family lobster fishing business in Maine. In other words, these too belong to Wyeth’s own life and form part of his inner experience. Painted in Sherwood Cook’s fishhouse, Martinsville, Maine.”
Often, Wyeth’s aim was to capture “the spirit of the object, which, if you sit long enough, will finally creep in through the back door and grab you.” The careful observation and technical virtuosity on display in “Pot Buoys” make this work a classic Maine scene by one of America’s best-known artists.
Wyeth’s works can be found in major museum collections across the country, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 and died in 2009 at the age of ninety-one.
According to sale records, on November 25, 1959, Mr. Richard L. Hatch of Cundy’s Harbor, Maine, consigned this painting to M. Knoedler & Co., New York. Cundy’s Harbor is located thirty-five miles from Cushing, Maine, where Wyeth had his summer house. Hatch, who went to Hotchkiss and Yale, lived in Maine for fifty-five years. The Hatch home overlooks Cundy’s Harbor, and he and his wife Rakia were generous benefactors in the Maine area, sponsoring the Hatch Science Library at Bowdoin College and donating thousands of acres of land to the Nature Conservancy to create the Basin Preserve near Phippsburg, Maine, off Hatch Road. Hatch was the Maine Benefactor of the Year in 2007.
Three months after the painting was consigned, on January 7, 1960, Mrs. Anthony B. Cudahy of Omaha, Nebraska purchased the work from Knoedler. Anthony Cudahy worked for the Cudahy Packing Company, a meatpacking business that was one of the original stocks listed in the S&P 500 when it began in 1957. Cudahy also owned the Nebraska National Bank in Omaha and was a member of the Jupiter Island Club in Florida. His wife, Bettina Taber Cudahy, was a Rye, New York socialite who, along with her husband, would go on to be an influential art collecting couple in the Omaha community.
This watercolor will be included in Betsy James Wyeth’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.
Provenance: Private Collection, Orleans, Massachusetts, 1955
Mr. Richard L. Hatch, Cundy’s Harbor, Maine, 1956 Mrs. Anthony B. Cudahy, Omaha, Nebraska, purchased from M. Knoedler & Co., New York, January 7, 1960
Private Collection, Wellesley, Massachusetts, purchased from Grogan & Co., Dedham, Massachusetts, April 10, 2005
Literature: “Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New York, NY, Autumn 1976, Volume XXXIV, Number 2, pp. 13-17, 22, 165. Beth Venn, "Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth," New York, NY, 1998. “Andrew Wyeth: Temperas, Watercolors, Dry Brush, Drawings, 1938 Into 1966,” Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 1966, p. 51.
Condition report requests can be made via email or by telephone (firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.536.0030). Any condition statement given is a courtesy to customers, Copley will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition.