This work was illustrated on the 1935 Hercules Powder Company calendar.
N.C. Wyeth became one of the country's favorite and most recognized illustrators of the early twentieth century through his lively interpretations of American characters. His figures, full of energy and often depicted in dramatic poses, captured the imagination of the public. "However, from his earliest days as an illustrator, Wyeth had expressed a desire to become a landscape painter, and had 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." (D. Allen and D. Allen, Jr., N. C. Wyeth, New York, 1972, p. 174)
In New Trails, Wyeth combines his experience as an illustrator of early American scenes with his love of the landscape. In the center of the image, we see quintessential Wyeth figures: strong, heroic men gazing purposefully into the wilderness. The surrounding hills and forests appear full of promise, the leaves of the trees depicted in bright fall colors. The picture is unified by Wyeth's bold style; "His color is rich, warm, and freshly harmonious. He has an extraordinary skill at capturing the quality of light itself, not merely its symbolic representation in the arrangement of planes and their shadows, and he exercised it to the fullest, with an almost offhand delight in his mastery. His compositions are massive, with the play of great bodies, or loom of rock, or rise of tree, or the bulk of something fashioned by builders. There is substance to his forms and reality to his objects." (Allen and Allen, p. 11)
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.