ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)
ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)
ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)
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ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)
4 More
ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)

Spring Fed

ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)
Spring Fed
signed ‘Andrew Wyeth’ (lower right)
tempera on panel
27 ½ x 39 ½ in. (69.8 x 100.3 cm.)
Painted in 1967
The artist.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Mr. William E. Weiss, New York (acquired from the above, 1967).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
R. Meryman, Andrew Wyeth, Boston, 1968 (illustrated).
R. Meryman, Andrew Wyeth, Boston, 1969 (illustrated).
W. Corn, The Art of Andrew Wyeth, Connecticut, 1973 (illustrated).
“Andrew Wyeth” in Mizue: A Monthly Review of the Fine Arts, July 1973 (illustrated).
R. Rathbone and T. Miki, “Andrew Wyeth: A Japanese Viewpoint” and “And American Artist in Japan” in American Art Review, May 1974, pp. 83-93 (illustrated).
T. Hoving, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth–A Conversation with Andrew Wyeth, Boston, 1976 (illustrated).
D. and J. Abse, Voices in the Gallery–Poems & Pictures Chosen by Dannie & Joan Abse, London, 1986 (illustrated).
"Ein Bilderschatz in der alten Muhle wird zue Presseund Preissensation" in Art - Das Kunstmagazin, November 1986, pp. 88-92 (illustrated).
A. Chase, "Wyeth Country” in Vogue, October 1987, p. 316 (illustrated).
J. Duff, T. Hoving and L. Kirstein, "An American Vision" in Express, June 1987, pp. 6-9 and 52-53 (illustrated).
E. Sozanski, "The Wyeth works that Soviets saw" in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 July 1987, p. i1 (illustrated).
L. Sweeney, "The art of the WyethsAfter touring the USSR, a three-generation exhibition is on view in the US before going on to Japan, Italy, and England" in Christian Science Monitor, 8 July 1987, p. 23 (illustrated).
"An American Visionthree generations of Wyeth art" in Dallas News, 4 October 1987 (illustrated)."Wyeth art DynastyDallas Museum features three generations of painters" in Telegraph, 1 October 1987 (illustrated).
J. Duff, "An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art" in U.S.A. Today, 1 January 1988, pp. 36-47 (illustrated).
Contemporary Great MastersAndrew Wyeth, Tokyo, 1993 (illustrated).
R. Meryman, Andrew WyethA Secret Life, New York, 1996 (illustrated).
B. Kalisher, "The Kuerner Farm" in Chronos, April 2004, pp. 40-44 (illustrated).
J. Kay, "Wyeth's Inspiration Opens to Public" in The Ledger, 9 June 2004.
D.S. Greben, "Wyeth's World" in Art News, October 2005, pp. 148-151 (illustrated).
T. Medoff, "Home of Inspiration" in AAA World, May 2005, p. 19 (illustrated).
A. Lisante, "Wyeth Country" in Philadelphia Daily News, 28 March 2006 (illustrated).
V. and S. Friedman, "Canvasing the world of Wyeth" in The Mercury, 9 April 2006 (illustrated).
J. Woolridge, "Wyeth Country: Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley givers visitors an intimate glimpse of artist's world" in The Miami Herald, 14 May 2006 (illustrated).
K. Heller, "It feels good to say: She was wrong about Wyeth" in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11June 2006, p. M3.
R. Rice, "Grim Fairy Tales: The Andrew Wyeth show is a matter of life, but more subtly, death" in Citypaper Philadelphia, 27 April 2006.
O. Nerdrum, KitschMer Enn Kunst, Oslo, 2009 (illustrated).
Nerdrum, Odd, KitschMore Than Art, Oslo, 2011 (illustrated).
P. Eliasoph, Robert C. Jackson: Paintings, Atglen, Pennsylvania, 2012, p. 26 (illustrated).
R. Meryman, Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait, Washington, D.C., 2013 (illustrated).
G. Fabrikant, "In a Patch of Pennsylvania, Three Faces of Wyeth" in The New York Times, 26 May 2013, p. TR8.
A. Guglielmetti, "Le temps dans la peinture d'Andrew Wyeth" in Mirabilia, September 2014, pp. 88-109 (illustrated).
J. Balestrieri, "Painting Windows and A Family Affair" in American Fine Art, May 2014, pp. 48-55 (illustrated).
S. Doherty, "New Exhibition Highlights Wyeth's New Windows" in Plein Air, August 2014, pp. 30-32 (illustrated).
"Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In" in American Art Review, October 2014, pp. 122-125 (illustrated).
National Gallery of Art, Exhibitions, Washington, D.C., 2014 (illustrated on the cover).
S. Takahashi, Bulletin of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, 2014 (illustrated).
F. Sellers, "In Chadds Ford, Pa., they still tell stories about Andrew Wyeth, but plenty of mysteries remain" in The Washington Post, 24 April 2014 (illustrated).
C. Elvidge, "The Report: Mr. Andrew Wyeth" in Mr. Porter, 22 April 2014 (illustrated).
L. Mallonee, "Finding Refuge in Wyeth's Windows" in, 12 November 2014 (illustrated).
K. Baumgartner, Andrew Wyeth: People and Places, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 2017 (illustrated).
S. Takahashi, Andrew Wyeth, Tokyo, 2017 (illustrated).
B. Sokol, "A Dynasty of Light" in American Way, July 2017, pp. 52-60 (illustrated).
T. Hine, "Wyeth's World" in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 June 2017, H1, H7 (illustrated).
R. Colvin, "Retrospective of Andrew Wyeth, a Painter Both Loved and Loathed" in, 5 December 2017 (illustrated).
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Andrew Wyeth, July-September 1970 (illustrated).
Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth, April-June 1974 (illustrated).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, October 1976-February 1977.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Andrew Wyeth, June-August 1980 (illustrated).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art; Leningrad, Academy of the Arts of USSR; Moscow, Academy of the Arts of the USSR; Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art; Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum; Milan, Palazzo Reale; Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, March 1987-November 1988 (illustrated).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, The Kuerner Farm, April-October 2004.
Atlanta, High Museum of Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic, November 2005-July 2006 (illustrated).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, A Painter's View: Andrew Wyeth's Studio, March-November 2012.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, May-November 2014 (illustrated).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art and Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, June 2017-January 2018 (illustrated).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1988-2023 (on extended loan).
Further details
The Andrew & Betsy Wyeth Study Center of the Brandywine Museum of Art confirms that this object is recorded in Betsy James Wyeth’s files.

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Andrew Wyeth's art has proven to be one of the most unique and enduring American styles of the 20th Century, garnering the artist longstanding international acclaim. With an original blend of simplicity and intricate detail, Wyeth elevates the everyday into timeless visions of poignant beauty. His work is appreciated for its exquisite attention to both subject and technique, for its celebration of American life, and for the haunting, elegiac silence that pervades his masterworks, including Spring Fed.

In the present work, a traditional rural American subject—a view of the Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, landscape from inside his neighbour Karl Kuerner’s barn—is elevated to 20th Century masterpiece through Wyeth's modern focus on compositional design. Nancy Anderson writes of Spring Fed, “studies document the process by which Wyeth pared the view to its essentials, eliminating even the mullions from the lower window on the right. A tracing of the compositional elements reveals the painting’s geometric structure and reflects Wyeth’s claim that a painting should be both realistic and abstract. The mathematically precise painting is a study in looking – through multiple interiors, through multiple windows, through light and shade.” (Looking Out, Looking In, Washington, 2014, p. 29)

Indeed, Spring Fed is among the most poignant instances of Wyeth’s signature career-long motif—the use of multiple picture planes, divided and separated by windows and doors—featured in many of his most celebrated works, including Wind from the Sea (1947, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Wyeth’s windows, both open and closed, explore concepts of physical and emotional distance. As Anne Knutson writes, “Wyeth associates the liminal spaces of thresholds with psychological states of thinking, imagining, and dreaming; the paintings become magical chambers where dreams are played out.” (Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic, Atlanta, 2005, p. 75)

In Spring Fed, Wyeth employs the window threshold in multiple compositional and symbolic ways. Most directly, the window panes create a picture within a picture: the meticulously executed background, featuring cows against a glowing, almost otherworldly, backdrop of a grassy snow-covered hill. The image outside is of changing seasons, birth, life and organic form, which is sharply contrasted by the spare, geometric lines of the foreground interior. The importance of the view outside to the overall composition is underscored by the work’s title—Spring Fed—which confirms that source of the water in the interior trough is actually from the distant spring outdoors. Indeed, Wyeth himself described this deeply rooted connection between interior and exterior, writing about the present work, In the barn was the trough–the water starting on the hill, the snow seeping into the ground, running down pipes through the house and into the trough, like life itself endlessly moving…There was a swirl of light on the steel milk bucket against the snow of the hill. Through the window, a sense of foreboding. I painted this in Spring Fed.” (as quoted in Looking Out, Looking In, Washington, 2014, p. 29)

This sense of foreboding partially lies in the depicted location’s link to the death of his father, the famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth, as the railroad tracks on which N.C.’s car stalled and he was killed are just over the hill rendered outside the windows of Spring Fed. This moment was an monumental one in the then-young artist’s life, undoubtedly influencing his career-long interest in life, death and rebirth. That hill on Kuerner Farm had particular significance to Wyeth and reappeared several times throughout his oeuvre, most notably in the earlier masterpiece Winter (1946, North Carolina Museum of Art).

Wyeth also linked Spring Fed with another tale of tragedy, the fable of Robin Hood—a notorious character also connected to his father N.C., who famously illustrated the story. While he was long past playing make-believe Robin Hood as a kid in the woods nearby, the story maintained strong personal connections for the younger Wyeth, inextricably linked to his own family history. Wyeth explained of Spring Fed, “It was really how I imagined the death of Robin Hood. He has been taken to a nunnery and locked in a room and bled for a day and half…inside Robin Hood in a pure white room on a stone slab, the blood from his veins running down the side of the slab and his helmet by his head.” (as quoted in Looking Out, Looking In, Washington, 2014, p. 29) With this association, the windows in Spring Fed become less of a liminal space for dreaming than a nightmare—where the peek into a world of light and plenty underscores the beauty of life that is no longer accessible.

Wyeth’s sister, Carolyn, has suggested a more universal interpretation of these undertones in Spring Fed. “It’s absolute finality,” she explained. “That’s it. That trough is like a casket. Those shadows are warm, and yet they’re cold, a cold cement look. It’s unrelenting. He just lets you look a little at the beautiful landscape. Don’t be too contented. That damn pail up there is like a helmet, the way it shines. There’s the Germanic–you know, Karl Kuerner making everything utilitarian–and that’s the way a casket is to me, utilitarian.” (Andrew Wyeth's Ides of March: The Making of a Masterpiece, Chadds Ford, 2013)

As observed by Carolyn, objects in Wyeth’s best paintings transform into personas, often serving as memento mori with links to specific individuals who have passed. Not just windows or doorways, but also mantels, lintels and walls, carry symbolism relating back to current or past inhabitants. The Kuerner Farm, along with the Olson Farm in Maine, is a central site of inspiration in Wyeth’s career that is part of the autobiographical underpinning of Wyeth’s body of work. As Wyeth once explained of Kuerner’s, “I didn't go to that farm because it was in any way bucolic. Actually I'm not terribly interested in farming. The abstract, almost military quality of that farm originally appealed to me and still does...To see the hills capped with snow in the wintertime or to look at the tawniness of the fields in the fall all made me want to paint it…I didn't think it was a picturesque place. It just excited me, purely abstractly and purely emotionally." (as quoted in Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1976, p. 40)

With these many interconnecting layers of meaning, Spring Fed is “one of the most striking examples of this complex relationship between the exterior world Wyeth observed and the interior world he conjured.” (Looking Out, Looking In, exhibition catalogue, Washington, 2014). Indeed, even with the artist’s own musings about the painting, Spring Fed maintains an overall sense of mystery and tension that makes the work ever thought-provoking. Wanda Corn explains, “ [Wyeth] rarely lets us glimpse the multitude of private associations any single painting holds for him, letting them simply suffuse a picture with a general flavour. Like Picasso, he has created a veritable private iconography, hard to penetrate and impossibly fully to comprehend. We sense that Spring Fed, a typical barnyard scene, is haunted by stillness, bleached colors, and an atmospheric vacuum, but we will never know the far more complex associations and memories at play in the artist’s mind.” (Andrew Wyeth's Ides of March: The Making of a Masterpiece, Chadds Ford, 2013)

Imbued with these personal emotions that are quintessential to his best work, Spring Fed is also emblematic of the modern techniques of design and application Wyeth employed to create visual imagery that is intensely captivating even without background knowledge. In the scope of Wyeth’s career, the painting is a tour de force, at once both easy to understand, and also ceaselessly fascinating and attention holding, as Wyeth provokes the viewer to contemplate the mysteries of the human condition, found hidden within his distinct vision of American life.

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