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

Popular Magazine Cover Illustration ('The Frontiersman')

Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945)
Popular Magazine Cover Illustration ('The Frontiersman')
signed 'NC Wyeth' (lower left)
oil on canvas
34 x 25 in. (86.4 x 63.5 cm.)
Helen L. Card and E. Walter Latendorf Gallery, New York.
The Popular Magazine, no. 5, vol. 23, March 15, 1912, Month End edition, cover illustration
D. Allen, N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, 1972, p.128, illustrated
American History Illustrated, August 1976, cover illustration
Helen L. Card sale catalogue, no. 2, p. 33, illustrated

Lot Essay

Executed circa 1911.

N.C. Wyeth's The Frontiersman was executed in 1911 for The Popular Magazine, as the cover illustration for the March 15, 1912 issue. The Popular Magazine was, along with Progressive Farmer and Country Gentleman, one of several publications for which Wyeth executed scenes of rural life. Other works done for the covers of these widely-read periodicals were titled with such charmingly down-home names as Bringing Home the Pumpkins and Corn Harvest in the Hill Country.

Wyeth wrote of his ability to so faithfully portray the country life in 1925: "My brothers and I were brought up on a farm and from the time I could walk I was conscripted into doing every conceivable chore that there was to do about the place. This early training gave me a vivid appreciation of the part the body played in action. Now, when I paint a figure on horseback, a man plowing, or a woman buffeted by the wind, I have an acute bodily sense of the muscle-strain, the feeling of the hickory handle, or the protective bend of the head or squint of eye that each pose involves. After painting action scenes I have ached for hours because of having put myself in the other fellow's shoes as I realized him on the canvas." (as quoted in D. Allen and D. Allen, Jr., N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations, and Murals, New York, 1972, p. 68)

The Frontiersman is a boldly-drawn single portrait of a weathered, vigilant and brawny woodsman out on a hunt. He has paused in his search for game perhaps to get his bearings, gather strength, or contemplate his next move. Not only has Wyeth proved his talent at drawing a figure, but he has also, as he consistently desired, had a chance to include a landscape in his composition. "From his earliest days as an illustrator, Wyeth had expressed a desire to become a landscape painter, and he had many conversations about this with his teacher Howard Pyle, who encouraged him to devote part of his time to such paintings. With his deep love of nature and the out-of-doors, it is easy to understand why Wyeth would find particular satisfaction in expressing these feelings in landscapes depicting his beloved Brandywine country." (N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations, and Murals, New York, 1972, p. 174) The coupling of a human subject, full of character, with a surrounding Brandywine landscape, makes for a remarkable example of Wyeth's early work.

This work is included in the N.C. Wyeth catalogue raisonné database that is being compiled by the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

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