The Ornithological Paintings of Jamie Wyeth: An Exhibition and Sale

The Ornithological Paintings of Jamie Wyeth: An Exhibition and Sale

New York, NY USA Tuesday, October 25, 2005Saturday, November 26, 2005

New York, NY USA
Tuesday, October 25, 2005Saturday, November 26, 2005

Contact: Robyn Liverant, Robyn Liverant Public Relations
212.472.6947 or

ON OCTOBER 25, 2005


New York, NY (Summer, 2005)—Arising from an almost childlike sense of wonder and curiosity about the things he sees every day, Jamie Wyeth has always chosen his subject matter from his life and surroundings. Such is the case with his birds: They are very much alive in his paintings as he reports on observed behavior that occasionally mimics our own. The Ornithological Paintings of Jamie Wyeth: An Exhibition and Sale, which will be on view at Adelson Galleries in New York City from October 25-November 26, 2005, represents a portion of the loan exhibition, Gulls, Ravens and a Vulture: The Ornithological Paintings of James Wyeth that opened in June at the Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland, Maine, supplemented with works that are available for sale.

“This is Jamie's first exhibition at Adelson Galleries in New York, but our relationship with the artist spans over thirty years," says Warren Adelson, president of Adelson Galleries. “Jamie is a wry and insightful observer of the human condition, and his depictions of birds are no less portraits of individuals than his human subject matter. We are thrilled to present this very special exhibition.”

When asked for comment about this upcoming New York exhibition, Jamie Wyeth said recently, “I’m very excited that my birds will roost in New York for a while.”

It is not surprising that an exhibition of Wyeth’s birds would be organized: From the 1960s to the present, he has been intrigued by birds of all kinds, resulting in more than 175 paintings and drawings. Each bird, whether a chicken, gull, raven or vulture is portrayed with an incredible uniqueness and individuality that only an artist of Wyeth's talent and sensitivity could master. One of the highlights of The Ornithological Paintings of Jamie Wyeth is Basket Hook (1985), a drybrush and mixed media work, which depicts a White Leghorn chicken sitting in a hand-woven splint basket owned by the artist. Painted at Point Lookout Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Basket Hook is a whimsical and endearing depiction of one of Wyeth's barnyard birds and is part of a series of the same subject that the artist has produced over the years—chickens in various baskets and poses. In this painting, Wyeth has portrayed a chicken with the same admiration and respect as any person that appears in his figurative compositions.

The Snow Goose (2003) is another highlight of this exhibition. Associated with childhood, the goose appears throughout time in places such as fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes and mythology. As the artist frequently captures subjects with a child-like wonder of his own, it is not surprising, therefore, that geese and ducks hold a predominant place in Jamie Wyeth’s works. His depictions of ducks and geese are narrative and whimsical. This oil on canvas is also a rare example of the artist including the human form in one of his bird paintings; in this case, he has included a child. The girl in the picture takes an inquisitive stance with the goose, undaunted, as if the vulnerability she and the goose share breaks down instinctive and traditional boundaries.

Jamie Wyeth’s A Murder of Crows (2003) is a dramatic oil on canvas of birds in flight on a wintry day on Southern Island in Maine where the artist lives and paints throughout the year. His obsession and constant fascination with these magnificent birds has resulted in this emotionally charged canvas. This imposing work is painted in a highly charged palette of snowy blues which complements the cloudy sky as “a murder of crows” looms in the distance on a frigid afternoon. One can almost hear the raucous caw of these birds of prey. This, like other of Wyeth’s crow pictures, evolved in the late 1990s from sources within literature. The practice of foretelling the future, based on the number of birds witnessed has for centuries spawned countless versions of counting rhymes. Wyeth has always considered the Old English nursery rhyme “Counting Crows” a cautionary tale and to this day remains intrigued by it. A “murder” of crows is based on a folk tale that crows form tribunals to judge and punish the bad behavior of a member of the flock. If the verdict goes against the defendant, the tale says, that bird is killed (murdered) by the flock. The basis in fact is probably that occasionally crows will kill a dying crow that doesn't belong in their territory or much more commonly feed on carcasses of dead crows.

James (Jamie) Browning Wyeth (b. July 6, 1946) has attracted considerable attention since adolescence as a third-generation American artist: son of Andrew Wyeth, among the country’s most popular artists, and grandson of Newell Convers Wyeth, famous for his distinctive illustrations for the classic novels by Stevenson, Cooper and Scott. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, just south of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he grew up and still lives part of each year, he left public school after the sixth grade to be home-tutored so he could devote more time to art; he spent at least eight hours a day studying, sketching and painting. By the age of 18, Wyeth’s paintings hung in the permanent collections of the Wilmington Society of Art in Wilmington, Delaware, and in the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, as well as in several private collections. A sensitive observer of his rural surroundings, Wyeth began painting livestock and other animals with the same care and intensity that he devoted to portraits of people. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he received commissions to paint portraits of Delaware Governor Charles L. Terry and a posthumous portrait of President John F. Kennedy. His painting was also gaining acclaim at that time through an exhibition of his work along with his father’s and grandfather’s in 1971 at the newly opened Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford. Since then, Wyeth has had several one-man exhibitions, including those at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (1980), Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth (1981), Anchorage Fine Arts Museum (1983), Portland Museum of Art in Maine (1984) and Decatur House in Washington, DC (1995). His works are also included in many public collections, including those of the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago; The National Gallery of Art and The National Portrait Gallery, both in Washington, DC; John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska; William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington; and Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Wyeth is a participating lender for the United States Department of State, Art in Embassies Program. He holds honorary degrees from Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania (1975); Dickinson School of Law, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1983); Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (1987); University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont (1988); and Westbrook College, Portland, Maine (1993).

An opening night reception will be held on October 25 from 6:00-8:00 P.M. to benefit Scenic Hudson, an environmental organization and land trust working to protect, preserve and restore the Hudson River and its riverfront as a public and natural resource through coalition building, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley's inspiring natural beauty. Tickets are $75.00. For further information about this special evening, please contact Caroline Owens Crawford at 212.439.6800.

Adelson Galleries, Inc. is noted for its expertise in the field of American art and the work of John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt in particular. In 1980, Warren Adelson, an internationally recognized authority on Sargent, initiated scholarship on the John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné in partnership with the artist’s great-nephew, Richard Ormond. To date, three volumes of the Catalogue Raisonné have been published by Yale University Press. In 1998 the gallery also became the home to the Mary Cassatt Catalogue Raisonné project, which is actively engaged in updating and expanding the existing catalogue by Adelyn Dohme Breeskin. Based on Breeskin’s pioneering research and her archives, the Mary Cassatt Catalogue Raisonné will include new works that have come to light since the publication of the first catalogue in 1970. The project will produce a revised and expanded Catalogue Raisonné including both the original essays and new scholarship. In addition, the gallery has made significant contributions to the study of American art through critically acclaimed loan exhibitions and accompanying publications, including the recent Art in a Mirror: The Counterproofs of Mary Cassatt (2004), Sargent’s Women (2003), Maurice Prendergast: Paintings of America (2003), From the Artist’s Studio: Unknown Prints and Drawings by Mary Cassatt (2000), Childe Hassam: An American Impressionist (1999) and Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes (1997). Recently, Robb Report magazine, the international authority on the luxury lifestyle, chose Adelson Galleries from an international field of competitors as its 2005 Best of the Best Art Gallery.

Adelson Galleries is open to the public Monday-Friday, 9:30-5:30 and Saturdays from 10:00-5:00. The galleries are located in The Mark Hotel, 25 East 77th Street, Third Floor, New York, NY. Tel: 212.439.6800. Fax: 212.439.6870. Website: E-mail: