Lot 57
  • 57

N. C. Wyeth

450,000 - 650,000 USD
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  • N. C. Wyeth
  • "We Must Be in the Dungeons" Dick Remarked
  • signed N.C. Wyeth (upper right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 40 by 32 inches
  • (101.6 by 81.2 cm)
  • Painted in 1916.


Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
Mrs. T. Whitney Blake, New Haven, Connecticut
Mr. & Mrs. Sherman Hoyt, Katonah, New York, until 1940
Mr. & Mrs. Albert Turner
Robert and Rosemary Turner (by descent)
Sold: Phillips, New York, January 20, 1998, lot 281
American Illustrators Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1998


Rockland, Maine, Farnsworth Art Museum; Wilmington, Delaware, Delaware Museum of Art, Wondrous Strange, The Wyeth Tradition, June 1998- February 1999, no. 76, illustrated 


Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow: A Tale of Two Roses, New York, 1916, illustrated opp. p. 128
Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N.C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, New York, 1972, p. 219, illustrated p. 89
Christine B. Podmaniczky, N.C. Wyeth: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, vol. I, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 2008, no. I612, p. 325, illustrated


The canvas is lined and the edges are trimmed. There is scattered surface cracking, most prominent in the darker pigments, and frame abrasion at edges. Under UV: there is inpainting to surface cracking in the lower register and a few other pindots and lines of inpainting.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

N.C. Wyeth painted "We Must Be In the Dungeons," Dick Remarked in 1916 during the height of the period that is today known as the Golden Age of Illustration. By this time, Wyeth had achieved success as an illustrator after studying at Howard Pyle’s eponymous school and selling his first drawing to The Saturday Evening Post in 1903. He gained further recognition when he received a commission from Charles Scribner's Sons to illustrate Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island in 1911. Wyeth’s career continued to flourish and he was commissioned to illustrate several other ‘Scribner Classics,’ including The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses for which the present work is an illustration. By the time of his death in 1945, Wyeth had created nearly 4,000 illustrations for books and magazines. First published in 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses is a story of adventure and romance set in fifteenth century England during the War of the Roses. Richard (Dick) Shelton, the protagonist, joins the fellowship of the Black Arrow to avenge the death of his father, who he learns was murdered by his guardian, Sir Daniel Brackley. Along the way Dick rescues the woman he loves and becomes entangled in the greater conflict surround them all – the struggle between the Yorks and the Lancasters. The present work depicts Dick as a courageous and heroic figure as he descends into a dungeon. Wyeth produced seventeen illustrations for this story.  

Wyeth became particularly involved in illustrating The Black Arrow and according to Victoria Manning, “read extensively and understood the authors whose stories he visualized and communicated. Attention to exact details such as long-bows, spears, doublets, mail, and quarterstaves was essential. In thoroughly researching the details of medieval dress, language, and mannerisms, Wyeth followed Pyle’s lead. He accumulated pieces of authentic costuming and dramatized a scene or action whenever possible. His involvement with detail was so consuming that the book became part of his everyday life. Having internalized the black and warring mood of the medieval period, Wyeth reveled in the panoramic visual pageantry of these chivalrous times but despaired at the depressing legacy of brutality, treachery, and war. According to his letters, painting freed Wyeth from the emotional turmoil he experienced in his in-depth study of those perverted times. He released his passions on the canvas” (Visions of Adventure: N.C. Wyeth and the Brandywine Artists, New York, 2000, p. 32).