Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller
Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946)

Rogue Wave

Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946)
Rogue Wave
signed 'J. Wyeth' (lower left)
oil, acrylic and enamel on canvas
26 x 36 in. (66 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted in 2009.
The artist.
[With]Boom Boom Ltd., Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Commissioned by the late owner from the above, 2009.
W. Adelson, et al., The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Supplement, vol. V, New York, 2015, no. 23, p. 82, illustrated.
E. Bostwick Davis, T.L. Poulin, "Jamie Wyeth's Tableaux Vivants: Miniatures at Play in Creative Space," American Arts Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 2, Spring 2016.
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Lot Essay

This painting is included in the database of the artist's work being compiled by the Wyeth Center at the William A. Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine.

Rogue Wave is a powerful depiction of the Maine seascape near Monhegan Island, where generations of American artists have gathered to work in the summer months. Jamie Wyeth, following in the footsteps of his father, Andrew, and grandfather, N.C., spends portions of the year in this area, working in a studio once owned by the painter Rockwell Kent. David Rockefeller, who owned a summer compound on Mount Desert Island in Maine, commissioned the present work from Wyeth to commemorate a dramatic day they spent at sea together. Rogue Wave's brooding palette, dramatic vantage point and vigorous brushwork reflect the raw power of the stormy sea that Rockefeller and the artist experienced.

Warren Adelson writes of the day that inspired the present work, “Rogue Wave is a ‘portrait of place’ during a unique experience and painted in remembrance of the moment. Coincidentally, both David Rockefeller, the owner of the painting, and I were with the artist at the time. We were returning from Monhegan Island one morning in late August of 2009 just as the outer bands of a hurricane hit the island. Boarding the boat was a challenge as the waves were rolling 10 to 15 feet and the gangway did the same. We finally got aboard, and the artist guided the Dreadnought, a lobster boat converted for passengers, out of the harbor and headed for home. As we circled Monhegan, the waves were crashing 30 feet against the Blackhead Cliffs, and the seas were unlike anything I had known. Deep troughs of water and looming waves surrounded us as the sturdy craft rocked and glided in the churning Atlantic.

“En route back to Tenants Harbor, we passed Jamie’s island house and studio on Southern Island. Depicted here in Rogue Wave, this canvas was inspired by that day on the ocean. We sat deep in water in the Dreadnought and looked up at Southern Island, unlike the perspective of this painting.” (The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, vol. V, New York, 2015, p. 82)

The rugged landscape of Maine has been a continual source of inspiration to American masters, from George Bellows to Wyeth’s mentors Rockwell Kent and the members of his own family. Wyeth has observed of Maine, “The danger with Maine is that it is so anecdotal and emblematic in terms of pot buoys, pretty houses, pretty lobster traps—‘quaint’ things. Maine is not that way. Maine has a lot of edge, a lot of angst. In particular, islands, the part I know of Maine from having lived on them.” (as quoted in E.B. Davis, Jamie Wyeth, exhibition catalogue, Boston, Massachusetts, 2014, p. 125) In Rogue Wave, Wyeth conveys this perspective of Maine in a bird’s eye view of Southern Island, which is enveloped by the tumultuous, stormy sea. On a sunny summer day, Southern Island is typically vibrantly hued and the house and lighthouse are a bright white. In the present work, the darkly colored island is imbued with the menacing atmosphere of the moment as the island is enveloped by raw forces of nature. The artist applied thick, white impasto to represent the robust crashing waves, and his vigorous brushwork conveys the unrestrained energy of the churning ocean.

Rogue Wave is a ‘portrait of place’ that at once represents both a fleeting, stormy moment as well as a timeless depiction of the Monhegan seascape that has inspired countless American artists. Jamie Wyeth’s emotive palette and brushwork beautifully recreate a dramatic day at sea in a location treasured by both he and the original owner of Rogue Wave.

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