Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
Property from The Westervelt Company, formerly The Gulf States Paper Corporation
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

Silver Cove

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
Silver Cove
signed 'Andrew Wyeth' (lower right)
tempera on panel
24 x 41½ in. (61 x 105.4 cm.)
Painted in 1937.
Mr. and Mrs. Roswell P. Angier, Port Clyde, Maine, 1941.
Mr. George Pegram, Madison, New Jersey.
Sotheby's, New York, 25 October 1979, lot 223.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
Currier Gallery of Art, Midsummer Exhibition of Oils and Water Colors by Contemporary American Artists, exhibition catalogue, Manchester, New Hampshire, 1940, n.p., no. 81, back cover illustration.
Middletown, Delaware, St. Andrew's School, Exhibition of the Work of Andrew Wyeth, April 1-22, 1940, no. 72.
Manchester, New Hampshire, Currier Gallery of Art, Midsummer Exhibition of Oils and Water Colors by Contemporary American Artists, July 7-September 29, 1940.
Sylacauga, Alabama, Sylacauga Art Museum, February 24-March 24, 1982, on loan.
Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Howard Pyle and the Wyeths: Four Generations of American Imagination, November 2, 1983-January 12, 1984.
South Bend, Indiana, South Bend Art Center, American Masterpieces from the Warner Collection, December 9, 1989-February 4, 1990.
Montgomery, Alabama, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Impressions of America: The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, June 18-July 28, 1991.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1937 along the coast in Martinsville, Maine, Silver Cove embodies the most exceptional hallmarks of Andrew Wyeth's accomplishments in the tempera medium that have made him one of the most significant figures in American art. The present painting exhibits the subtle yet dense narratives that pay tribute to the passage of time and the people and places that inhabited the artist's daily life in Maine and Pennsylvania. Wyeth's father, N.C., first visited the small fishing village of Port Clyde with William Merritt Chase in 1910 and immediately became captivated by the landscape and people who inhabited the harbor town. N.C. eventually bought and renovated a home along the coast, promptly naming it "Eight Bells" after Winslow Homer's famed painting and in 1930 began spending summers there with his family. Andrew and his siblings, Henriette and Carolyn, would endlessly explore the rocky coast and beach along Martinsville and the dock in Port Clyde and would spend many hours painting alongside their father during the summer months.

Wyeth began to experiment with tempera in the late 1930s, having been introduced to the medium by his brother-in-law, Peter Hurd, making the present work one of the earliest temperas the artist completed in his career. The year 1937 also marks Wyeth's first ever solo exhibition, a sold out show at the Macbeth Gallery in New York that immediately established the young artist as a recognized presence in the art world. This rich tempera medium that Wyeth developed is critical to the success of Silver Cove, endowing the scene with the most subtle layers of color and allowing for great precision of detail while retaining the refined surface and sense of atmosphere that are so integral to Wyeth's paintings. The artist says of the medium, "I love the quality of the colors: the earths, the terra verde, the ochers, the Indian reds, and the blue-reds. They aren't artificial. I like to pick the colors up and hold them in my fingers. Tempera is something with which I build--like building in great layers the way the earth itself was built. Tempera is not the medium for swiftness..." (as quoted in Andrew Wyeth, exhibition catalogue, Boston, Massachusetts, 1995, p. 11) Tempera allows Wyeth to suggest a sense of timelessness and imbue Silver Cove with the stillness and mystery that is emblematic of his finest work.

Wyeth was a constant observer, often working in series inspired by subjects familiar to him. He built upon them in sketches which he swiftly and deftly created in quick passages of light that fall on a landscape or a passing glimpse from one of his sitters. As a result, his finished compositions often result in a marvelous dichotomy of abstraction grounded in precisely rendered realism of the places and people of Pennsylvania and Maine. Yet, even with this investment, Wyeth remains the impartial spectator, creating narratives that are deeply charged with his own emotion yet maintain an ability to allow for the viewer's own interpretation. Wyeth has taken a vantage point that allows his viewer an intimacy to the present scene, as if just happening upon the two figures in the cove adjusting the rigging on their sailboat. A lone house sits away from the center of the composition, drawing the viewer further into the physical composition and overall narrative of the scene. There is a sense of solitude and fortitude that defines the figures and envelops the entire landscape of Wyeth's Maine, underscoring the independent and complex spirit of the characters who inhabit the artist's world.

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

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