Lot 64
  • 64

Jamie Wyeth b.1946

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Jamie Wyeth
  • Sea Birds
  • signed J. Wyeth (lower right)
  • oil on panel
  • 48 by 36 inches
  • (121.9 by 91.4 cm)
  • Painted in 1995 on Southern Island, Maine.


Nicholas Wyeth, Inc., New York
James Graham & Sons, New York
Josephine & Walter Buhl Ford II, Grosse Point, Michigan (sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 30, 2005, lot 230, illustrated)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale


Kalamazoo, Michigan, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, The Wyeths: America's Artists, January-April 2011

Catalogue Note

The thread that most closely connects Jamie Wyeth's work with that of his father, Andrew, is the pervasive significance of the locations in which they painted. The Wyeths have lived and worked in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and on the coast of Maine for generations.  Elliot Bostwick Davis describes the importance of place in Jamie Wyeth's art, writing, “there are the two worlds the artist inhabits in the Brandywine River Valley and Maine. Wyeth travels frequently…between his home at Point Lookout Farm in Wilmington, Delaware, and the islands of Maine, where he maintains studios on Southern Island in Tenants Harbor and on Monhegan Island. The two landscapes in which the Wyeth family has lived and worked have…inspired their creativity for generations” (Jamie Wyeth, Boston, Massachusetts, 2014, p. 10).

As in many of his views of Maine, in Sea Birds Wyeth takes a low perspective, using the monumentality of the Southern Island lighthouse rising to the top edge of the image to emphasize the verticality of the composition. The artist draws our eye upward by placing the distant American flag and the natural spot of red on the seagull's beak in opposite corners of the picture, and situates the viewer as a third gull trailing this pair up the embankment. David Houston writes of Wyeth's affinity for animals, "No other major American artist of our time has painted animals with the intimacy and depth of understanding that Jamie Wyeth has. As Lincoln Kirstein observed of Wyeth’s youth, ‘His closest companions were beasts and birds of the Brandywine’s riverbanks and fields, a domain whose aspects had barely changed since before the eighteenth century.’…

“Jamie’s bird paintings…introduce a complex, multilayered range of new expressive content to his work. …By the 1980s the seagulls and ravens had become a major preoccupation in Jamie’s work. Whereas the sheep, wolves, and cows boldly stare out of the paintings to directly engage the viewer, the gulls are captured and anthropomorphized in a diverse array of activities as if on a stage. …Each of Wyeth’s animal subjects suggests a different intent and content and invites the viewer to interpret it as a character with strong human psychological associations, sometimes in a general way, but often in a way specific to the artist’s own world” (Ibid., p. 21).