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    Description

    N. C. WYETH (American 1882 - 1945)
    Mrs. Van Anden Sings, A Story of the North Country, Scribner's Magazine illustration, June 1913
    Oil on canvas
    25 x 34 in.
    Signed lower left
    In the realm of the Golden Age of American illustration, few if any artists are held in higher esteem than N. C. Wyeth. His work is at home alongside the vital illustrations of Winslow Homer, Howard Pyle, and Frederic Remington. On assignment from Scribner's Magazine, N. C. Wyeth traveled the American West, and from these trips, he created over 400 illustrations and paintings, but by 1911, Wyeth had moved away from these Western themes to focus on illustrating classic literature. He painted a series of celebrated book illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island in 1911, Kidnapped in 1913, and Robin Hood in 1917. Wyeth's work also appeared in Century, Harper's Monthly, Ladies' Home Journal, McClure's, Outing, and Scribner's magazines.

    This haunting mise en scene, painted during this peak period of Wyeth's career, is a masterfully staged composition featuring a group portrait that captures romantic tension of Mary Synon's (1881-1965) short story. "Mrs. Van Anden Sings" is a tale of tragic tryst, set in the railway construction camp of the Missinaibi Station in Ontario. The plot revolves around the temptress, Mrs. Van Anden, who sings a compelling siren song of forbidden love, "Kashmiri Song" and nearly ensnares the narrator's fiancé, Gordon Nicolson in her romantic designs. Meanwhile, it seems the construction superintendent's wife, Mrs. Radbourne, is having an affair with a Russian engineer.

    Wyeth's illustration captures the pensive mood of the players as they listen to the haunting melody and lyrics of this song, a parlor room standard from 1909 until World War II. As the story puts it, "Five men and two women were showing their naked souls -- and all of them had been living in the Bush country a little too long. Anne Lowden looked as if she were seeing white ghosts. Radbourne glared at the Russian engineer with the calculating, murdering hatred of a master of men. Mrs. Radbourne was gray with fright. And Gordon Nicolson --." The massed shadow and middle-value forms of these figures link the group, while the lovers each gaze away from their spouses. Each character in this narrative is presented with a unique contemplative personality.

    Caption: We all listened breathless even after the last chord of it had ceased to throb.

    A bound volume with a copy of the magazine is included in this lot

    PROVENANCE:

    A Scribner's Magazine publication label is affixed to the back of this piece. There is an inscription on the top stretcher written in pencil, #29856, and the N. C. Wyeth Museum has confirmed that this is the Scribner's inventory number for the painting. The museum has the complete inventory and their inventory card corresponds to this painting.




    Condition Report*: The art is in Excellent condition.
    *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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    5th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
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