Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Art Review - "Roasted Chestnuts" by Andrew Wyeth - Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA

With cooler weather upon us, I thought I'd share this painting by Andrew Wyeth at the Brandywine River Museum of Art for #MuseumTourTuesday.

Through his use of muted color, Wyeth perfectly captures that sense of the cold day where one stands in the sun to catch that little bit of extra warmth that it might provide. Even the choice of tempera as the medium adds to the sense of the crisp cool air where everything in view is just a bit clearer in its detail without any atmospheric distractions. 

I love that Wyeth elongated the figure in the painting, relating his thinness directly to the movement of the thin tracks in the road.

In Wyeth's own words, from the museum's website: "The boy is Alan Messersmith, and I saw him standing there on Highway 202 near West Chester…in Pennsylvania. The tracks seemed to me almost like those made by ancient Roman chariots. There’s a sort of ancient feeling about this picture and the young man."

"Roasted Chestnuts"
 • Andrew Wyeth
 • 1956 
• Tempera on panel 
• 48" x 33”

The museum website also offers an interesting explanation about the elements of the painting: “Messersmith was a neighbor who regularly sold chestnuts by the side of the road. Although he is alone, the ruts created by car wheels in the mud indicate the past presence of other people in this place. The tracks also serve as a strong compositional element, opening out towards the viewer at the bottom of the canvas and continuing into the distance at the top. Such tracks are a recurrent theme in Wyeth’s work. The lengthening shadows of late afternoon suggest the boy’s persistence as he waits for customers, alone but not lonely. His worn army jacket and frayed knit cap convey the physical discomfort of a sunny yet cold winter’s day."

 

"Roasted Chestnuts" Detail
 • Andrew Wyeth
 • 1956 
• Tempera on panel 
• 48" x 33”

So many areas of the painting could easily stand alone as almost abstract textural paintings, including this detail of the ruts in the road.

"Roasted Chestnuts"
 • Andrew Wyeth
 • 1956 
• Tempera on panel 
• 48" x 33”

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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