Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options

    Description

    Andrew Newell Wyeth (American, 1917-2009)
    Dee, 1987
    Watercolor with drybrush on paper
    21 x 28-3/8 inches (53.3 x 72.1 cm) (sheet)
    Signed lower right: Andrew Wyeth

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Baker, Greenville, Pennsylvania, acquired from the above, 1988;
    Baker Family Trust No. 1.

    Perhaps even more than his landscapes, Andrew Wyeth's deeply personal, exquisitely rendered portraits of his neighbors in rural Pennsylvania and Maine catapulted him to celebrity as "the people's painter" during the second half of the twentieth century. Time and time again, he painted select locals, creating a memorable cast of characters who symbolized both the vernacular particulars of Chadds Ford and Cushing, as well as the universal experiences of everyman. Among them were Christina Olson, the crippled farm girl memorialized in Christina's World; Walt Anderson, a crusty lobster trapper; fisherman's daughter Siri Erickson, one of his earliest nude subjects; Karl Kuerner, stoic veteran-turned farmer; and his most famous model, hardy German-born Helga Testorf, whom he secretly imaged at the Kuerner homestead hundreds of times from 1971-85. In his portraits, Wyeth coupled his incomparable realist technique with an interest in psychology, effectively eliciting an emotional response from the viewer.

    One of Wyeth's favorite model-friends who belonged to both his Pennsylvania and Maine worlds was the art teacher Dorothy "Dee" Brinton Parker. Dee became immersed in the Wyeth family after meeting Jamie Wyeth, Andrew's younger son, at the Chadds Ford Inn in 1982 when she was in her thirties. Soon after, she was introduced to Andy and Betsy and their older son, Nicholas, for whom she nannied during the summer in Maine. Beginning around 1984, Wyeth completed six paintings of Dee, including one of her in the nude, and two positioning her near windows: Schoolteacher depicts her in a white sweater and red turtleneck near the north window of his Chadds Ford studio, and a later sketch shows her standing outside of the Wyeth Maine home Eight Bells peering through a window.

    As an art instructor, Dee understood the importance of modeling and was game to hold difficult poses: "I remember [lying] on a Maine beach, flat on my face staring at my shoulder, and there were sand fleas jumping up my nose, in my eyes and all over my body. I enjoy nature so it really didn't bother me" (F.S. Sellers, "Q & A with Dorothy Brinton Parker," Washington Post, April 24, 2014, online). As the model for maypole-dancing Anna Kuerner in Snow Hill, Dee recalled being "on tiptoes with the right foot, my left foot . . . resting on a low stool and my arms . . . outstretched. [Wyeth] told me that I was his best model because I could hold the pose for long periods of time. He may have told that to every model. Who knows? . . ." (Ibid)

    Wyeth painted the stunning present lot, Dee, at Broadcove Farm in Maine in the summer of 1987 when Dee was babysitting Victoria Wyeth, Nicolas' daughter. Offset by the stark wall of Victoria's playroom, Dee smiles warmly and stares straight at the viewer, a highly unusual perspective for Wyeth, who typically angled his models in space, underscoring their interiority with averted eyes. Through his expert handling of drybrush, Wyeth here effects detailed patterns in Dee's striped shirt and layered hair, points of visual dynamism which draw the viewer back to her face. Dee's smile and direct gaze indicate her genuineness, sense of humor, accessibility, and confidence, yet Wyeth also hints at her serious inner life by hiding half of her face in shadow. Dee reminisced about sitting for this particular painting and, in the process, deepening her appreciation of both artmaking and her friendship with Wyeth:

    "I was looking directly into his eyes and he sat right in front of me. His watercolor board rested on my knees. Every time he looked down to work, to sketch, to paint, I could look down at the same time to watch the whole process. That was really special because I had an instantaneous art lesson from him. I learned many things from it. As far as I know, it's one of perhaps three paintings where the subject is looking directly at him. In most of his famous paintings, the models' heads are turned, sometimes turned completely away. Think of Christina's World. . . . We talked all the time. Stories of his youth. About people that [Wyeth's father] N. C. invited to their home when they were young. Actors, artists, writers. People with a lot of character. . . . When he painted, he would screw up his face. Now and then, he would pick the painting up and put it at a distance, even upside down to see if the balance worked. He encouraged me to join him, standing back and looking at it. He would ask my opinion. He appreciated my sense of the artwork. He brought me into the process." (Ibid)

    We are grateful for the generous assistance of Mary Adam Landa, Wyeth Collection Manager, The Office of Andrew Wyeth LLC, for providing valuable information from the Wyeth archives, indispensable to the cataloguing of this lot, which will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's work.




    Condition Report*: Framed under glass. Hinged along the top edge verso. Three horizontal hard creases (approx. 2 inches each) along the top edge, left of center. Moderate buckling throughout the sheet. A few, small, strips of adhesive along the extreme edges, verso, with accompanying spots of skinning, not visible recto. Surface soiling with scattered scuffs and scratches visible throughout the background, inherent with the work and artist hand.
    Framed Dimensions 28.5 X 38.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2021
    5th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 621

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 15% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Nov 5, 2021 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 July 8 Ethnographic Art American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Art Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    The high price received is a direct reflection of your hard work and integrity.
    Richard B.,
    Ogden, UT
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search