Lot 17
  • 17

N. C. Wyeth 1882 - 1945

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • N. C. Wyeth
  • Ramona (Ramona and Alessandro on the narrow trail)
  • signed N.C. Wyeth (lower right)
  • oil on hardboard
  • 25 by 16 3/4 inches
  • (63.5 by 42.55 cm)
  • Painted in 1939.


Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts (commissioned from the artist)


Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona, Boston, Massachusetts, 1939, illustrated in color opposite p. 234
N.C. Wyeth, Income Tax Notes for 1939, Brandywine River Museum Library, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, New York, 1972, p. 207
Christine B. Podmaniczky, N.C. Wyeth: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 2008, vol. II, no. I.1267, p. 572, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

By 1939 when the present work was painted, N.C. Wyeth was among the best-known artists in America, having received attention for his illustrations of literary classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1911) and James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans (1919) as well as periodicals including Harper’s Weekly and Scribner’s. The present work was painted as an illustration for the 1939 edition of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona, first published in 1884. It portrays a scene from the beginning of Chapter 12, when Ramona and Alessandro, two Native American lovers, flee into the San Bernardino Mountains, having been driven from their homeland by the westward advance of settlers. Wyeth depicts Alessandro leading Ramona on horseback through a steep narrow mountain pass with his own horse trailing behind. The emotion in Ramona’s expression conveys the hardship faced by Native Americans in Southern California during this period, paying homage to the author’s original intentions for the novel.

Ms. Jackson began her campaign on behalf of Native Americans in 1881 with A Century of Dishonor, a nonfiction treatise intended to expose the U.S. Government’s mistreatment of the country's indigenous people. Despite distributing the book to every member of Congress, little political action was taken. Jackson wrote the fictional Ramona to raise awareness among all Americans, hoping the romanticized tale Ramona and Alessandro would have similar impact to that of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It became one of the most widely read books of the time, inspiring pilgrimages to many of the sites in Southern California depicted in the story.