viernes, 8 de septiembre de 2017


Christa Zaat

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Newell Convers Wyeth (American artist and illustrator) 1882 - 1945
The Hurricane, 1935
oil on canvas
38 1/8 x 32 3/8 in. (96.8 x 82.2 cm.)
signed N.C. Wyeth (lower right) and titled The Hurricane (upper right)
private collection

Catalogue Note
N.C. Wyeth executed The Hurricane in 1935 as the period that is today known as “the golden age of illustration” drew to a close. By this time, Wyeth had established himself as a premier American illustrator after studying at Howard Pyle’s eponymous art school and selling his first drawing to The Saturday Evening Post in 1903. He gained further national recognition when he received a commission from Charles Scribner & Sons to illustrate Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island in 1911. Wyeth’s career continued to flourish until his death in 1945, by which time he had created nearly 4,000 illustrations for books and magazines.

Little, Brown & Company commissioned the present painting for the dust jacket of Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall’s novel The Hurricane, a sympathetic tale of life on a Polynesian island as seen through the eyes of Dr. Kersaint, a French medic. The authors detail the brutality of the island’s malevolent French colonial ruler, who controls all aspects of life except the forces of nature. In this work, Wyeth captures the dramatic moment when a hurricane wreaks havoc on the island, the scene for which the novel is named.

The artist wrote that, “Convincing illustration must ring true to life. The characters should be of flesh and blood, not puppets who strike attitudes for the sake of composition, or manikins which serve as drapes for clothes, however effective the costumes in themselves may be” (Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, New York, 1972, p. 128). In The Hurricane Wyeth achieves exactly this, capturing the human emotion of the moment and bringing the palpable tension of the storm to life. He frames the scene with curving tree branches, which simultaneously draw attention to the center of the composition and allude to the undeniable power of nature, a theme that is present throughout the novel.

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Newell Convers Wyeth was encouraged to draw when he was a child. When he was about 20 years old he began working for a magazine, the Saturday Evening Post. They sent him to study southwest culture and for three months he lived among the Indians and herded sheep. He sketched and painted pictures to show what life was like among the Indians. He married and he and his wife raised five children. Their son Andrew became one of America's foremost artists. Andrew, who was ill when he was a child, was homeschooled and his father taught him how to be an artist. Two more of their children, Henrietta and Carolyn, and also their grandson, Jamie, (Andrew's son) became artists. Jamie, when he was 21, painted a portrait of John F. Kennedy. Jamie had also been homeschooled and trained by his father.

N.C. studied with Howard Pyle, a man who gave free art lessons to students that he thought had a lot of artistic ability. Wyeth became a book illustrator. The first book he illustrated was Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island. During his lifetime he drew and painted about 3,000 pictures and illustrated 112 books. In the 1930's he began painting a set of large murals for a life insurance company, but he and one of his grandsons were both killed in a car accident in 1945. His son Andrew and his son-in-law finished the work.

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