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DEER HUNTERS

The thirty years beginning in 1870 are considered the “golden age of hunting” in America. Never again would there be such an abundance of game. Big game hunting and sport fishing in wilderness areas had become a popular avocation enjoyed among outdoorsmen. This was driven in part by the publishing world with writers such as Theodore Roosevelt, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, George Bird Grinnell, T.S. Van Dyke, Francis Parkman, and Owen Wister to name a few. This literature was usually illustrated by the best artists and illustrators of the day including Winslow Homer, Arthur Tait, Frederic Remington, A.B. Frost, Charles Russell and Carl Rungius. Added to this extraordinary list a decade later was a young and promising artist named Newell Convers Wyeth.

Over his long career as an artist illustrator, N.C. Wyeth painted many subjects dealing with the outdoors for magazine illustrations, covers and calendars, and advertisements and posters for leading American firearms manufacturing companies.

Wyeth’s first major work in the field of outdoor sporting art was a painting titled, The Moose Call, published by Scribner’s magazine in 1904. In 1907 he painted four canvases devoted to hunting and fishing subjects including The Hunter and Primitive Spearman for the Outing magazine and the Silent Fisherman for Scribner’s. The same year an advertising painting for the Cream of Wheat Company titled Alaska featured a sled driver fighting off a pack of wolves. In 1909 a new client, Smith and Street Publishing Company, commissioned Wyeth to paint the first of a total of 32 covers for their best selling bi-monthly, The Popular Magazine. A bear hunter in his canoe was the featured image. Of the 32 covers Wyeth painted for The Popular Magazine between 1909 and 1926, nearly one third were based on hunting or fishing themes.

In December of 1914, N.C. Wyeth painted Deer Hunters. It was reproduced on the cover of the February 7, 1915 issue of The Popular Magazine. The painting depicts two wary hunters treading a snow-covered landscape in search of game. The hunters are armed with what appears to be a Special Model 1894 Winchester, a popular deer rifle of the time. Obvious in Deer Hunters is Wyeth’s expertise as a fine plein-air landscape painter. Working out-of-doors in all kinds of weather gave Wyeth’s illustrations authentic and believable settings for his subjects, achieved only through years of experience.

Summing up N.C. Wyeth’s contribution to the world of sporting art is best said in a tribute from the publishers of The Outing Magazine. “Wyeth is one of our greatest painters of American outdoor life.”

– Douglas Allen
Author, artist & noted authority on N.C. Wyeth

Hunters is recorded in the Brandywine River Museum’s N. C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné #I557 or NCW1875.

Photocopies of the February 7, 1915 front cover of The Popular Magazine and a 2007 letter from the Brandywine River Museum will accompany the lot.

LITERATURE:
The Popular Magazine (New York, New York: Street & Smith, Feb. 7, 1915), front cover, illustrated

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