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    Description

    Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009)
    Cold Spell, 1965
    Watercolor on paper
    19 x 28 inches (48.3 x 71.1 cm)
    Signed lower right: Andrew Wyeth

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Mrs. Colin Gardner, Jr., Middletown, Ohio, acquired from the above, 1966;
    Antonina Gardner Cappel, granddaughter of the above, by descent;
    Antonina Webb Gorman and Christina Cappel Hoerner, daughters of the above, by descent.

    EXHIBITED:
    National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., "Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In," May 4-November 30, 2014.

    LITERATURE:
    N.K. Anderson and C. Brock, Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2014, pp. 149, 170, no. 52, illustrated.

    Throughout his six-decade-long career, Andrew Wyeth painted lonely rural landscapes, closely observed portraits, and crisp interior still lifes in a characteristically realistic and finely detailed style. His landscapes are almost entirely of locations in the Chadds Ford and Brandywine area of Pennsylvania and in coastal Maine, the places where he grew up and lived all his life. Wyeth's family, close friends and neighbors, and their homes, were frequently the subjects of his intensely personal paintings.

    Wyeth's interior scenes and architectural views often focus on windows and doorways, and Cold Spell is one of the most beautiful, complex, and perhaps most intimately personal of these intriguing works. It is a scene looking out the window of Betsy and Andrew's bedroom window. Painted as a gift for his wife, the work hung over the couple's fireplace at The Mill from the time it was executed in 1965, until it was sold to the present owners' great-grandmother just one year later, in 1966.

    The theme of the open window is one that Wyeth revisited throughout his career. Using this architectural opening as an artistic tool is not a new theme. Artists such as George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, and even Wyeth's father N.C have all utilized this artistic device in their exploration of modernism, and intimacy: "Wyeth was heir to the artistic legacy of Sheeler's analytical, impersonal style and Hopper's intimate, figurative approach that can both be found in the younger artist's works. Their themes and concerns were Wyeth's quietude, isolation, and the reduction of subject in favor of an underlying and often unnoticed, abstraction. The window grid served all three men as both a template to explore pure visual problems and a vehicle to register and express the turmoil of modern life. Windows lent formal clarity and transparency to their works. Wyeth, Sheeler, and Hopper used the window structure to divide and compress their images' spare interior and exterior spaces into carefully calibrated designs. The motif also enabled the three artists to convey humanity's alienation from the world it inhabited. Their many drawings, paintings, and photographs of windows wedded visual lucidity to physical loss and psychological estrangement and constituted a significant chapter in the history of twentieth-century American modernism" (C. Brock, "Through the Glass: Windows in the Art of Wyeth, Sheeler, and Hopper," Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2014, p. 40).

    In the present work, the interior of the room is dim, seemingly cast in early morning light, while the landscape beyond the open window is stark and bright. The expansive view includes no figures, but as in so many other works by Wyeth, a strong sense of their presence is evident. The close vantage point and the tightly cropped window frame at the edge of the painting create the illusion that the viewer is actually looking out a window. In Cold Spell, the scene Wyeth has presented is intimate, not grand, and this intimacy lends itself to an honesty and immediacy in his depiction. The solitude and overall quietness of the image underscore the simplicity of life inherent in so many of the people and subjects that capture Wyeth's imagination. Additionally, Wyeth exquisitely uses delicate light and rigorous brushwork to illuminate and play with movement in the composition. The deceptively empty interior is actually rendered with a sophisticated use of watercolor that lends a tangible quality of life, texture and even smell to the scene. The black windowpane takes on a sculptural presence against the richly textured wall, composed with daring broad washes of pigment, saturated interior planes and animated surfaces. Each purposeful dash of pigment builds a complex scene that reveals Wyeth's deep visual and psychological understanding of his environment and friends. "Art, to me, is seeing," Wyeth has said. "I think you have got to use your eyes as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn't work. That's my art." (as quoted in Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, New York, 1976, p. 185)

    Cold Spell is not only an intimate and personal depiction of the view from the artist's bedroom window, the history of the work since its inception is equally as special. In a letter written by the Antonina Gardner Cappel, granddaughter of Mrs. Colin Gardner, Jr., a Wyeth family friend who purchased the work from Wyeth on a cold winter day in 1966, the story is as follows:

    "When I was 25 years old, my grandmother, Elinor Gardner, was visiting Philadelphia and asked my husband and me if we could drive her to Wilmington, Delaware, her home town. On our way, she suggested that we go by Chadds Ford, and see Andrew Wyeth. I was very surprised and didn't think we should do that on a Sunday afternoon when he did not know we were coming. She assured me that it would be fine, so we proceeded to the Mill and found Betsy Wyeth in the courtyard.

    "She greeted us warmly and invited us into the house where Cold Spell was hanging over the fireplace. She told us that it was a gift from her husband. The subject was their bedroom window. My grandmother was fascinated and wanted to buy it but understandably, Mrs. Wyeth was not interested in selling it.

    "Soon Andrew joined us and took us upstairs to the bedroom to see the window and the view. The following year (1966) I think, my grandmother added Cold Spell to her collection of two other Wyeth temperas.

    When my grandfather died in 1969, [Wyeth] wrote a very beautiful and sensitive letter of sympathy.

    I think [my grandmother] left me the painting for two reasons; first, because I was with her when she first saw the painting, and second; because I was an art student with a serious intent to become a professional artist. My grandmother was a very strong influence in my life, as I have been an artist for the past 25 years..."

    Cold Spell is an iconic example of Wyeth's window scenes that has left the owner's family only once in fifty years, when it was lent to the National Gallery of Art's 2014 exhibition, Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, a show devoted exclusively to the artist's window scenes. Heritage is honored to offer this magical work for the very first time at public auction.

    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*: Sheet has custom archival mounting; slight undulation to edges; framed under museum glass.
    *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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2019
    1st Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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