Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
Property from the Collection of Eric and Cynthia Sambol
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

Study for "Barracoon"

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
Study for "Barracoon"
signed 'Andrew Wyeth' (lower left)
pencil on paper
18 x 23¾ in. (45.7 x 60.3 cm.)
Executed in 1976.
The artist.
Leonard E.B. Andrews, acquired from the above, 1986.
Private collection, Tokyo, Japan, acquired from the above, 1989.
Pacific Sun Trading Company, LLC, Wellesley, Massachusetts, acquired from the above, 2005.
Acquired by the present owners from the above, 2006.
J. Wilmerding, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1987, p. 113, no. 129, illustrated (as Barracoon).
J. Wilmerding, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo, Japan, 1987, n.p., illustrated.
D. Furchgott, D. Kuspit, Andrew Wyeth's Helga Pictures, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 2004, n.p., illustrated.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, May 24-September 27, 1987, no. 129.
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum, and elsewhere, The Helga Pictures Then and Now, September 24, 1992-January 18, 1993.
West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Museum of Art, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, January 13-March 24, 1996.
Louisville, Kentucky, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Wyeth: Three Generations, June 2-August 16, 1998.
Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth's Helga Pictures: An Intimate Study, May 4-August 4, 2002.
Lafayette, Louisiana, University of Louisiana, University Art Museum, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth's Helga: An Intimate Study, April 21-July 21, 2004.
Naples, Florida, Naples Museum of Art, Andrew Wyeth and Family, January 21-May 14, 2006.
Lafayette, Louisiana, International Arts & Artists, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, April 21-July 21, 2004, no. 39 (as Barracoon).

Lot Essay

Executed in 1976, Study for 'Barracoon' is one of a series of drawings and paintings depicting Andrew Wyeth's secret muse, Helga Testorf and one of several preliminary drawings for his seminal tempera, Barracoon. The name of the series is derived from the aforementioned tempera, in which Helga is transformed into a prone African American woman with her hands bound together in front of her face. Wyeth explained, "The name is Betsy's. Although what she saw was a version I did in which I turned Helga into a black woman. Barracoon refers to the prison where they kept the slaves so that people wanting to buy could look at 'em." (as quoted in Helga on Paper, New York, 2006, p. 72) The African American version of Barracoon is largely imaginary, combining Helga's body, the feet of Wyeth's long-time employee, African American Betty Hammond, and the artist's own hands. The woman is also placed in a generic room without any specific identifying details. Wyeth considered the work to be one of his most successful, writing in his autobiography, "My best nude--though it's way beyond a nude. What I was trying to achieve was something dateless. I was lying in bed and thinking of drawing Helga like this and I also got to thinking of Karl Kuerner and the black woman he'd told me he'd once taken up into his attic and the picture just spilled out." (T. Hoving, Andrew Wyeth: Autobiography, Boston, 1995, p. 108)

This work will be included in Betsy James Wyeth's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

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