Lot 64
  • 64


600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Marriage
  • signed with initials AW (upper right)
  • tempera on gessoed panel
  • 24 by 24 inches
  • (61 by 61 cm)
  • Painted in 1993.


The artist
[With]Nicholas Wyeth, Inc., Cushing, Maine
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1998


Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, November 1993-May 1994 (on loan)
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, November 1994-May 1995 (on loan)
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, November 1996-May 1997 (on loan)
Rockland, Maine, Farnsworth Art Museum; Wilmington, Delaware, Delaware Art Museum, Wondrous Strange: The Wyeth Tradition–Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth, June 1998-February 1999, p. 166, illustrated pl. 99
Atlanta, Georgia, High Museum of Art; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic, November 2005-July 2006, no. 100, p. 215, illustrated pl. 77, p. 200
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum of Art, June-October 2010 (on loan)


Richard Meryman, Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life, New York, 1996, pp. 176, 260, 334, illustrated opp. p. 82
Meryle Secrest, "A Painter of Our Time," Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 1, 1996, illustrated, n.p.
Catherine Quillman, "Wyeth's World," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 29, 2006, p. A1, A7
Catherine Quillman, "Posing for Wyeth," The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 11, 2006, p. E1, illustrated
Robin Rice, "Grim Fairy Tales: The Andrew Wyeth show is a matter of life, but more subtly, death," Philadelphia City Paper, April 27, 2006, n.p.
Laura Hoptman, Wyeth: Christina's World, New York, 2012, illustrated fig. 13, p. 17
Chris Barber, "Local Couple Hosts Former Residents," Southern Chester County Weeklies, July 31, 2014, n.p.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work is in good condition. The panel on which it is painted is flat. Wyeth's technique in tempera is very complex and incorporates multiple layers and different textures throughout. Perhaps because his technique is slightly unconventional, the paint layers sometimes do develop small areas of cracking and tiny losses. Here, one can see under close examination very fine and slightly raised cracking in the red eiderdown to the right of the bed post on the far right side. There are a few small specks of loss in the lower left. There are a few spots that read darkly under ultraviolet light in the woman's hair and in the bedpost. However, these spots seem to be original and do not seem to correspond to retouching. It is more than likely that the work has not been retouched at all, and it may have only been exhibited behind glass since it was painted. The condition is beautiful overall, but a small amount of consolidation should be considered at some point to ensure the stability of the work for the future.
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

We are grateful to Bo Bartlett for preparing the following essay: "I was in Chadds Ford when Andrew finished this painting. For several years in the early 1990s I was there every day and into the evenings as I worked on a film about Wyeth’s life and art entitled Snow Hill. I remember clearly the evening he brought the painting home and had it hung in their living room for viewing in the Mill. We spent several evenings looking at it over dinner and drinks... discussing its implications. There was a game that unfolded almost organically where his wife, Betsy, would start to implore us for possible titles. The act of painting had been a wordless and an unconscious conceptual-less process. Andy had wandered into the Sipala’s house, the fabled Painters Folly, which had once been the home of his father’s teacher, Howard Pyle. Painters Folly can be seen in the distance from atop Snow Hill. The Sipalas, a married couple, being fans of Andrew’s, allowed him, like many other neighbors did in those years, to roam around their homes inside and out in search for the desired angle or perspective to tap into his psyche and find the illusive thing that ignited him. It was under these circumstances, as the story goes, that Andy wound up observing the Sipalas in their bed early one morning. That Andy was a peeping tom was understood and accepted. The voyeurism channeled and legitimatized with the creation of a painting... his finished paintings were often just byproducts of his process of search and discovery.  He had done the same thing in the black community of Little Africa and with Helga at the Kuerner’s Farm... just as he had years earlier at Olson’s during summers in Maine.

Andy and I began to throw out titles like a game of ring-toss... knowing that the only way to arrive at the goal was to get the game started. I recall one or the other of us throwing out the titles like 'Morning Star,' based on the planet viewed through half-opened eyes, setting out the window to the west at dawn over distant Kuerner’s Hill. Innocuous titles abounded in this game and no one cared... the more mundane or far flung the better… there was a moment of pause still etched in my memory when Andy and I had run out of title options and stood silently in front of the painting... Betsy emerged stoically from the kitchen, dishrag in hand, having overheard all of our inane options...  and won the game with one word... 'Marriage,' she proclaimed definitively. As she uttered this title, the air in the room changed... the painting itself seemed to react with a renewed luminosity... the word hit the target with concise perfection... suddenly a painting of an old couple lying half-asleep in bed... took on an archetypal symbolic meaning... this was how the magic was created... through a perfect marriage of the visual and the verbal.. Andy, a painter... Betsy, a writer. The painting became in that moment a representation of what it feels like to survive through the rugged turmoil and years of struggle in a married relationship. It didn’t lampoon it... it didn’t present it with irony... it handed the totality of life to us with the dignity that all the participants embodied. I had never experienced a painting come to life like that just by naming it. It was magical."

This tempera will be included in Betsy James Wyeth's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.