Tuesday, February 3, 2009

N C Wyeth Did Murals - Apotheosis of the Family

Can you name the artist who painted this mural? Of course it's N C Wyeth's week on this blog and the title for today provides a huge clue, so the answer must be N C Wyeth. Seriously though, who would have thought that the master of illustration would paint this mural or be asked to take on such a mammoth project? 

Commissioned in 1932 by the Wilmington Savings Fund Society (WSFS) in Wilmington, Delaware when N C really wanted to do something other than be "just an illustrator", the mural is made up of five canvas pieces that span a total of 60 feet by 19 feet. For the voyeurs amongst us, N C Wyeth's youngest son, the famous painter Andrew Wyeth then 15 years old, is standing as a naked adolescent, hoisting a bow and arrow.

The mural depicts a family standing in front of a house, surrounded by neighbors. They have been harvesting fruit, weaving baskets, planting crops, hauling fish and chopping timber. It also shows the seasons, as spring merges into summer, then autumn and winter. Some say this is a theme N.C. Wyeth may have borrowed from his son-in-law, Peter Hurd. Done in the grand manner style of murals from the 19th century, N C also used bright colors, unusual perspectives and powerful abstract forms of clouds, smoke and sea, reflecting Wyeth's interest in avant- garde Russian art, and works by Marc Chagall.

Although Wilmington Savings Fund Society restored the mural in 1998, the WSFS, in 2007, deinstalled and has donated the mural to the Delaware Historical Society during the renovations and recreation of the bank edifice as a different commercial endeavor. The Delaware Historical Society planned to install the mural in its Research Library facility down the street in fittingly another former bank building. Work to de-install and store the mural was contracted to Ely Inc. and entailed its removal and storage. "Removal of this oversized work was achieved by removing canvas panels attached to a wall and rolling them onto five large tubes. The removal project was directed and overseen by Ely and called upon the services of five different conservators, an environmental safety company and a hazardous material abatement company."

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