Newell Convers Wyeth (American, 1882-1945) ...Emerging into an opening that appeared to have been formed partly by the ravages of the wind, and partly by those of fire. 40 x 32in (Painted in 1925.)

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Lot 39
Newell Convers Wyeth
(American, 1882-1945)
...Emerging into an opening that appeared to have been formed partly by the ravages of the wind, and partly by those of fire. 40 x 32in

Sold for US$ 1,325,000 inc. premium

American Art

20 May 2015, 14:00 EDT

New York

Property from a Descendant of the Artist
Newell Convers Wyeth (American, 1882-1945)
...Emerging into an opening that appeared to have been formed partly by the ravages of the wind, and partly by those of fire.
signed and inscribed 'N.C. Wyeth / To Peter / from Grandpa - 1944' (lower left)
oil on canvas
40 x 32in
Painted in 1925.


  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Peter Wyeth Hurd, San Patricio, New Mexico, gift from the above, 1944.
    By descent to the present owner.

    Lubbock, Texas, West Texas Museum, Wyeth Family Show, April 15-May 13, 1951, no. 14 (as Forest Depths).
    Roswell, New Mexico, Roswell Museum and Art Center, Hurd-Wyeth Exhibition, September 13-October 25, 1981.

    J. Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer, New York, 1925, p. 6A, pl. 2, illustrated.
    D. Allen and D. Allen Jr., N.C. Wyeth, The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, New York, 1972, pp. 117, 202, illustrated.
    P. Robbins, "The Magic of N.C. Wyeth," South Carolina Wildlife, January-February 1979, p. 19, illustrated.
    C.B. Podmaniczky, N.C. Wyeth: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Wilmington, Delaware, 2008, vol. 2, pp. 476-77, no. I995, illustrated.

    A copy of the book The Deerslayer accompanies the lot.

    Newell Convers Wyeth, better known as N.C. Wyeth, was born in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1882. With artistic aspirations, Wyeth moved to Wilmington, Delaware to study at the Howard Pyle School of Art. It was there that the twenty year old student would work under the renowned "Father of American Illustration" among other eager young artists. Wyeth's time at the school allowed him to develop his skills as a commercial painter and not long thereafter, his efforts were validated as he began receiving commissions for magazine illustration work.

    In an effort to expand his skillset and at the prompting of Pyle, Wyeth spent the fall of 1904 in the American West, painting and recording the people and places he visited. This trip would be important to the artist's oeuvre which both directly and indirectly incorporated elements of these experiences with great levels of authenticity. Technically speaking, the time Wyeth spent out West taught him how to render Native American subjects, animals and local landscapes with confidence.

    By 1910, Wyeth was commissioned to paint the illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island – a book being published by Charles Scribner's Sons. This career-making commission would be the first of many from Scribner's – a company who published and reprinted classics such as The Boy's King Arthur (1917), The Last of the Mohicans (1924), and The Deerslayer (1925) – to name a few. With each new commission, Wyeth won acclaim for his style. His use of strong color, distinctive figures and intimate vantage points, enhanced the readers enjoyment of the most exciting moments of these tales. The distinctive realism with which he rendered these iconic stories is unmatched among his contemporaries and successors alike.

    In 1925, Wyeth was commissioned to illustrate The Deerslayer, the 1841 novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The book is one of the five "Leatherstocking Tales" written by Cooper between 1823 and 1841. In fact, it was the last book written in this series, yet chronologically, the earliest when read in sequence of the hero and main character Natty Bumppo's life. The stories, when read in order, begin in 1740 when Natty Bumppo is about twenty and continue until about 1804 when he is in his eighties – making The Deerslayer a prequel for the famed Last of the Mohicans (also illustrated by Wyeth in 1924). Although Last of the Mohicans was the most popular of this series, The Deerslayer is arguably the story with the sounder, more logical plot. The story chronicles Natty Bumppo and fellow traveler Hurry Harry on a journey toward Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. Natty, also known as the Deerslayer, is on his "First War Path" because he has not yet been forced to kill another human in battle or conflict. This distinction is lost when the pair inevitably encounter tribes of Native Americans on their excursion. Copper portrays Natty as a strong, honest and noble character – only acting when necessary and always holding true to his word. Considered to be the author's favorite of the "Leatherstocking Tales"—The Deerslayer was written at a time in Copper's life when his personal views on the world, life and religion were far more developed. The setting of Otsego Lake is also telling – as Copper had chosen to characterize his hometown so prominently in any of his other novels.

    The present work, ...Emerging into an opening that appeared to have been formed partly by the ravages of the wind, and partly by those of fire, is an illustration from The Deerslayer, by N.C. Wyeth. Wyeth's interpretation of this story has a sense of confidence and pride as he dynamically rendered the figure of Natty Bumppo in a moment of immediate, brilliant reaction. Emphasized by the expeditious nature of this moment with textured, moody brushwork, Wyeth places the viewer within a forest vantage point, Wyeth gives this child's story a distinctive realism. One feels the tremendous excitement that Natty Bumppo must have felt as he emerged into the opening as if they were viewing this expulsion on a theatrical stage. Natty appears triumphant, mimicking the large standing tree to his right, by no mistake – but rather to emphasize his ability to press on and withstand the trials of life. Wyeth's palette of greens and browns is geologically accurate to the story – yet the introduction of blue varies the tonal qualities, making the scene appear all the more mystical and magical. These subtle uses of color and the careful setting of the scene are only in part of what made Wyeth so successful in his day.

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