Carolyn Wyeth Still Life, ca. 1940
I lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which is near Kennett Square, and we often had art shows, and the Wyeth family usually exhibited there, and my mother picked this painting up and she also picked up one from Andy at the same time to see which one she liked in her dining room. And they went home with her, which was, you know, everybody trusted everybody in those days, and he had not made his mark yet. But for years we kidded her, she should have chosen the Andy instead of the Caroline, because he certainly has gotten his share of fame, but Mother always liked this best, and I grew up with it, and I like it best too.
And about what year did you think that this happened?
It would have to be after 1936, and probably before 1943.
The painting is clearly signed down here in the lower right corner, Carolyn Wyeth. She was the older sister of Andy or Andrew Wyeth, which is a familiar name to most people, and they were both children of N.C. Wyeth, who was famous for doing book illustrations and paintings, and there was another older sister, Henriette, who was also an artist, so there are many artists in the family and they also married artists, and the next generation is still painting. Carolyn, however, was a little unusual, because she never sought out the limelight.
She never cared about selling her work. She only painted about four paintings a year, and she rarely exhibited them, even though she got some honors and awards as early as her 20s. She studied for about 19 years with her father at his studio in Chadds Ford, and she ended up living there the rest of her life. She lived in the family home for her entire life. And some people said that she was a recluse, but she really didn't feel that way. She was an introspective person, and she really just enjoyed living a quiet life, and she was very happy. There were about 18 acres around the family home and she often painted landscapes or still life with objects that she found around the house. She died in '94. She had a long life of painting, and she also taught for about 40 years. What I see in this painting is that she has a really strong sense of color. The forms are very solid, and she has a really bold sense of overall design. It appears to be the original frame from the '30s, and it is an oil on canvas. Probably because she never cared about promoting herself or her work, there's not a lot of information when you check the auction records. But I think this picture has a lot of appeal as kind of a modernist approach to still life painting. Now, how much do you think your mother paid for it?
She paid $100. I have a record of it, that she did. I mean, she wrote things down.
Well, I think today, if this were for sale in a retail gallery, you might be able to see a price as high as $15,000 for it.
Maybe cheaper than an Andrew Wyeth, but still not bad for a hundred-dollar investment.
You keep what you like.
Yes, it's a lovely picture.
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