Private Collection, New Jersey.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
"Twenty-Third Annual Exhibition of Paintings by Delaware Artists, Pupils of Howard Pyle, and Members of the Society," Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, Wilmington, Delaware, November 2-28, 1936.
"One Hundred and Thirty-Second Annual Exhibition," Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 24-February 28, 1937.
"Annual Exhibition," Chester County Art Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1937.
"Exhibition of Paintings by Peter Hurd & Henriette Wyeth," The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, January 12-25, 1967, no. 5 (as executed circa 1934).
"Magical & Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective," James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, January 20-May 6, 2018.
Daughter of renowned illustrator and landscape painter, N.C. Wyeth, and sister of Andrew Wyeth, acclaimed American Realist, Henriette Wyeth proved an accomplished portraitist and still life painter over the course of her decades-long career. A child prodigy, her earliest art instruction came by way of her father; as a teenager, she enrolled in Boston's Normal Art School and, thereafter, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was in Chadds Ford, in her father's studio, where she met and fell in love with Peter Hurd, an art student from New Mexico. Wyeth and Hurd married in 1929, before relocating to San Patricio, New Mexico a decade later.
Throughout the 1930s, Hurd accepted a series of mural commissions–one of them for the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell–that would take him away from Chadds Ford, and from Henriette, for extended periods of time. The present portrait, executed around 1936, dates to one of the pair's occasional reunions. Dressed in a red sweater and blue jeans, Hurd poses before a view of New Mexico's Hondo Valley–in his words, the "part of the planet" where he felt "closest to life." Wyeth captures her husband's mood and personality with ease, and with a familiarity that only she possessed.
Hurd recounted the portrait's genesis to Southwestern historian and novelist (and one-time sitter of Henriette), Paul Horgan: "I [was] sitting on the model stand in my studio, a sheaf of drawings besides me on a portfolio and behind me one of the new New Mexico gesso landscapes of the mountain country–a set-up which without any change whatever occurred when she happened to see me sitting [there]." With hands clenched and lips pursed, Hurd returns Henriette's affectionate gaze. His piercing blue eyes are repeated in the color of his Levi's and, behind him, in the broad New Mexico sky.
The portrait was both well received and widely exhibited. In November 1936, it won first prize at the annual exhibition of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts. That same winter, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts' 132nd Annual Exhibition, it was awarded the prestigious Mary Smith Prize–an honor reserved for the most outstanding work by a woman artist. Portrait of Peter Hurd is a captivating likeness and among Henriette Wyeth's most impressive and personal paintings. It reveals the influence of her father (and his unique brand of Realism), while celebrating her husband's lifelong (and her burgeoning) love of the Southwest.
The unlined canvas in very good, close to excellent original condition, with slight abrasions along the top outer edge due to old frame rubbing. With very minor signs of surface soiling in the upper right quadrant. Examination under UV light reveals an uneven layer of varnish glowing throughout, with a figure mostly selectively cleaned. With several fluorescent highlights throughout, which are due to the pigments used by the artist and not a sign of restoration. The only inpainting we can see is at upper right quadrant, on the background painting: tiny pindots of inpainting at upper right, in the painting's top edge and right edge (corner). See Specialist's pictures for more details.
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Frame: 50 1/2 x 46 x 2 in.
Please note: All lots show signs of wear consistent with age and use, and the absence of a statement regarding condition issues does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from imperfections or the effects of aging.
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