The Hupper Farm
N. C. Wyeth ( American, 1882 - 1945 )
Best known for his vivid and exciting illustrations of American literary classics, N. C. Wyeth worked for the last several years of his life on a series of easel paintings exploring the quiet beauty of the country around his summer home in Port Clyde, Maine. Around the same time as he began working on this rural landscape, Wyeth learned tempera painting techniques from his son-in-law, Peter Hurd (1904-1984). He began relying on tempera's subtle color effects and layered application rather than his earlier fondness for oil paint or watercolor. Wyeth completed The Hupper Farm in oils and then used tempera to add finishing touches. It may be this fortuitous combination of paint types that gives The Hupper Farm a glowing, animate quality, reflecting Wyeth's spiritual ties to the coastal region he frequented for over three decades.
Emily Schiller, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2015.
Wyeth named his Maine residence "Eight Bells" after Winslow Homer's famed image of two fisherman working amidst a frothy, gray sea (Eight Bells, 1886, Addison Gallery of American Art).
The Hupper Farm was included in N.C. Wyeth's first one-man exhibition at Macbeth Galleries in December 1939 and then sent to the National Academy of Design's membership committee (made up of leading artists) in March 1940. A friend wrote to Wyeth to congratulate his acceptance as an associate member of the National Academy and included an anecdote about the committee's reaction to The Hupper Farm, "It seems a lot of very poor stuff was presented [to the committee], and yours was the last one to be put on the easel. As a token of appreciation that the artists felt for something good, they broke into applause when yours was exhibited,-- the only one, as I understand it, that received an ovation." (Robert W. Macbeth to N.C. Wyeth, dated April 11, 1940, Wyeth Family Archives.)
In his review of Wyeth's first one-man show at Macbeth Galleries in December 1939, art critic Royal Cortissoz was particularly struck by the artist's use of color and line. Cortissoz recommended the exhibition saying, "It is evident in all his pictures that he has a sense of color. His blues are particularly rich and strong. But it is his precision that ultimately makes his work attractive...The seasoned illustrator in him counts to good purpose. He uses a disciplined line. But he makes a good picture. I must signalize one or two more impressive instances such as the shadowy Marshall Farm [the previous title for the painting now known as The Hupper Farm]." (Royal Cortissoz, "N.C. Wyeth," New York Herald Tribune (December 10, 1939) section 6, page 8.)
N.C. Wyeth in Maine
Read this biographical essay adapted from Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth in Maine, A Centenary Exhibition (Rockland, ME: Farnsworth Art Museum, 1982).
N.C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné
Check out the most complete list of the artist's work, hosted by The Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.