Greenville County Museum of Art
Wyeth's "Hay Ledge" Returns to Greenville
On the 24th of August, 2000, the Greenville County Museum Commission approved the purchase of Andrew Wyeth's 1957 tempera, Hay Ledge, a major painting that was the cornerstone of the former Holly and Arthur Magill collection, which was on loan to the Museum from 1978 until 1989. Hay Ledge has been purchased in honor of the Magills, who paid half the cost of building the Museum, which opened in 1974, and who created its endowment in 1992. The $1.5 million acquisition is being funded by the Commission and the Museum's membership organization, The Museum Association, Inc.
"The purchase of Hay Ledge is a tribute to the extraordinary role that Holly and Arthur Magill played in the development of this community," said Museum Director Thomas Styron. "Their generous support of the visual arts is well known, but the Magills, by their example, also inspired a new era of cultural philanthropy in Upstate South Carolina."
Hay Ledge is a significant addition to the Museum's remarkable collection of twenty-four watercolors by Wyeth, who has been proclaimed America's best known and most loved living artist. As a tempera painting -- a difficult, quick-drying medium in which egg yolk is the binder for the pigment -- Hay Ledge complements the watercolor collection, and together these works demonstrate the artist's remarkable technical virtuosity. (left: Andrew Wyeth, Hay Ledge, 1957, tempera)
Painted when the artist was forty years old, Hay Ledge is a poignant interior glimpse into the Olson barn in Cushing, Maine. The Olson family and their farm are central figures in many of Wyeth's most renowned paintings, including his masterpiece, Christina's World (1948). In Hay Ledge, an abandoned white dory is starkly lit in the dark confines of a loft. Wyeth has said it was a tribute to Alvaro Olson, who stopped lobstering and took up truck gardening so he could care for his sister Christina, who was crippled from polio.
"Alvaro used to fish," Wyeth recalled, "and then he realized that he would be off all day hauling his nets, with his sister alone after the mother and father died, and he would be the only one who could take care of her. And so he stopped lobstering in his dory. He stopped, just like that, one day."
Wyeth has been saluted as a quintessentially American artist who connects with the realist tradition of Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. In its spare geometry and absence of human figures, Hay Ledge also relates to mid-20th century Precisionism, as espoused by Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Sheeler.
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Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/23/11
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