Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945)
Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945)

Breaking the Log Jam

Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945)
Breaking the Log Jam
signed 'N.C. Wyeth' (lower left)
oil on Renaissance panel
28 ½ x 41 in. (72.4 x 104.1 cm.)
Painted in 1943.
The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, Georgia.
[With]Ray Ketchman Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, by 1973.
[With]James Graham & Sons, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lockwood, Cincinnati, Ohio, by 1982.
J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1987.
D. Allen, D. Allen, Jr., N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, New York, 1972, pp. 287, 320 (as Breaking a Log Jam).
C.B. Podmaniczky, N.C. Wyeth: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, vol. II, London, 2008, pp. 695, 875, no. C173, illustrated.
Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum, 1982-1985, on loan.

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Annie Rosen
Annie Rosen

Lot Essay

Newell Convers Wyeth established himself as one of the preeminent illustrators of the early 20th century by successfully fulfilling countless assignments for America’s publishers. Possessing an incontestable knack for the profession, Wyeth’s illustrations were warmly embraced by the American public. While Wyeth established his reputation with his works of the American West and notable story illustrations, he further cemented his legacy, much like Norman Rockwell, with war-linked imagery.

During World War II, there were numerous instances where Wyeth was called upon to produce works that captured the heartland and stirred in the viewer feelings of patriotism and nostalgia. Painted in 1943, at the height of the war, Breaking the Log Jam was originally used as the main image in an educational poster for the “Our America” series, which was commissioned by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company and distributed by The Coca-Cola Company. The painting is at once narrative and poetic, demonstrating Wyeth’s dedication to the faithful depiction of his surroundings and clearly reflecting his personal response to and fondness for nature. Wyeth depicts three stoic figures working in a rich mountainous setting as they heroically set out to free the intertwined logs. Possibly inspired by the artist's time in Maine, or even his early trips to the American West, the present work is a tribute to the hardworking people and relentless spirit of America.

The drawing for the present work and the lantern slide made from the drawing are both in the collection of the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

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