Catalog Essay | September 17, 2020 | Lot 66
Guy C. Wiggins was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. His father, Carleton Wiggins, was an accomplished landscape artist who enjoyed a successful career as an artist. According to an article on the Wiggins family written in 2011, “He [Carleton Wiggins] pressed a palette and paints into his young son’s hands. By age 4, Guy Carleton Wiggins was churning out watercolors that foreshadowed a talent greater than his father’s.” (Ann Farmer, New York Times, “A Family of Painters is Having Its Moment, Jun. 6, 2011)
Wiggins first studied architecture at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute then left to pursue fine arts training at the National Academy of Design. The architectural cityscape of New York City became his muse and he started painting famous buildings in an impressionistic style. He once said, “If you want to sell paintings, it helps if it’s recognizable to many people.”
He became highly successful in the 1920s and 30s selling views of New York City architecture, particularly in the snow. In 1912, he became the youngest artist represented in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection with a painting titled “Metropolitan Tower.” He painted the Executive Mansion from the White House Lawn, a painting that hung in President Eisenhower’s Office.
The Great Depression took a toll on sales and Wiggins struggled in the years following the war. He moved with his family permanently to Essex, Connecticut and started the Guy Wiggins Art School. He became an active member of the Old Lyme Art Academy. He started to paint landscapes, however, he continued to paint New York City as a preferred subject.
Wiggins’ legacy was preserved in the history of American Art and his works are included in numerous public and private collections including the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Art Institute of Chicago.