American, (1917-2009)
"Gate Chain", 1967
watercolor on paper
signed in pencil lower right "A. Wyeth"

watercolor on paper
20 3/4 x 13 1/4 inches (sight)

  • Provenance: The artist; Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, New York; Private Collection, New York; Herbert Goldstone, New York, New York; ACA Galleries, New York, New York; A Connecticut estate.
  • Exhibited: New York, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons," 1976 (cat. no. 34).
  • Literature: Thomas Hoving and Andrew Wyeth, "Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 34, no. 2 (Fall, 1976), cat. no. 34, illustrated in black and white.

    Other notes: This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Andrew Wyeth's work by Betsy James Wyeth. A copy of the record and purchase receipt from ACA Galleries accompanies this lot.

    Framed dimensions: 30 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches

    Andrew Wyeth is one of America's best known Realist painters of the 20th century. His compositions were often imbued with a sense of mystery and uncertainty sometimes aligned with Magical Realism. Wyeths works were initially well received but his popularity declined in the 1960s with the emergence of abstraction and conceptual art. Wyeth refused to change his style and continued to find inspiration in the rural environments of Maine and Pennsylvania. Since his death in 2009, Wyeth's work has been reconsidered in the context of Contemporary art. He is now one of the most sought-after American artists and his works resonate with a broad audience.

    In 1976, the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the exhibition "Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons," combining works from two of Wyeth's favored sources of inspiration; the Kuerner farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and the Olson's farm in Cushing, Maine. In both places, Wyeth depicted the homes, the landscape and the families for decades in over 1,500 studies for numerous finished paintings.

    Karl Kuerner, a friend and neighbor, owned a farm over the hill from Wyeth's childhood home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. As a child, Wyeth was fascinated by Kuerner, a soldier who was wounded while fighting with the German army and moved to America after the war. Kuerner's life and the utilitarian nature of the farm were immediately attractive to Wyeth. As early as 10 years old, Wyeth painted watercolors at Kuerner's farm. Later in life, Kuerner would give Wyeth free reign and a key to his house to paint in any room, whenever he liked.

    Of Kuerner's farm in Chadds Ford, Wyeth said, "To see the hills capped with snow in the wintertime or to look at the tawniness of the fields in the fall all made me want to paint it. But here again, I backed into it. I didn't think it was a picturesque place. It just excited me, purely abstractly and purely emotionally."

    The present lot, "Gate Chain," depicts a fence post with a gate chain in meticulous detail. The cracks splitting at the top, the knots in the wood, and the darkening of the post at the wet base are all discernible. In the distance, the farm house and evergreens are visible against the bright white of the snow. The still quiet of the scene adds to the mystery. Of his work in general Wyeth commented, "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape– the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."

    Tags: listed artist, works on paper, 20th century, snow scene, modern / contemporary, Pennsylvania
  • Condition: remnant tape marks apparent in upper corners on the reverse; crease in paper lower right corner; slight crease lower left; hinged with two pieces of linen tape at the top; additional photos available upon request
    Condition Report Note:
    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE. Thank you for your interest in our sale.

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