Wyeth’s approach to watercolor is so distinctive that viewers can often spot one of his paintings from across the room. Painted in 1946, Winter Morning was purchased from Boston’s Doll and Richards Gallery by an artist and contemporary of Wyeth, and it has remained in the same family to the present. It was featured in major shows of Wyeth’s work over the next six decades, including 1970’s comprehensive exhibition held at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The accompanying catalogue contains text pertaining to the inspiration behind certain landscapes, and of Winter Morning is written:
“This is the side of Karl Kuerner’s barn with his house beyond. Kuerners’ hill of ‘Winter 1946’ rises in front. Deer season never ends without Karl shooting his deer. German by birth and frugal by nature, every edible part of this deer will be carefully saved. At Christmas he will give his friend, the artist, a gift of venison.”
Karl Kuerner served in the German army during the First World War before relocating to the United States and settling in Chadds Ford. He rented a farm, which after many years of work became his own, and grew close with the Wyeth family, Andy especially. As a child, Wyeth was enchanted by Kuerner’s war stories and grew to admire his pragmatism which came through in Kuerner’s vocation; on the Kuerner farm, everything had a place and purpose, nothing was wasted or neglected, be it a valuable piece of machinery or an animal, and Wyeth had free reign to explore where he liked, even possessing a key to the home. His fascination with the Kuerner homestead and surrounding landscape endured for decades, and Wyeth became a chronicler of the place, painting nearly every patch of field, every hill, pond, and outbuilding many times over, his imagination stirred by something new each time:
“The farm is very utilitarian in its quality. To enter that house with those heavy thick walls and have beer on draft or hard cider was an exciting thing. To see the hills capped with snow in the wintertime or to look at the tawniness of the fields in the fall all made me want to paint it…I didn’t think it was a picturesque place. It just excited me, purely abstractly and purely emotionally.”
In Winter Morning, Wyeth’s innovation and skill with the challenging watercolor medium is on full display through his combination of fluid washes with his characteristic drybrush technique, wherein he would squeeze pigment and water from a loaded brush to achieve more texture and detail in certain passages. The drybrush method was particularly effective in rendering the buck’s soft fur and in scattered patches of grass on the rolling hills. Wyeth has also cleverly left most of the paper blank, allowing a visual conversation to flow between the buck in the foreground and the Kuerners’ house in the distance. These elements are painted using a similar muted palette, even the soft blues of buck’s shadow are echoed in the structure’s roof and siding, and its elegant antlers direct the viewer’s eyes to the home, which is ingeniously crowned with the antler-like branches of the tree just beyond.
 McCord, David and Frederick A. Sweet. Andrew Wyeth (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1970), p. 57
 Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons (Metropolitan Museum of Art bulletin, 1976), p. 40
More information about this painting...
With Doll & Richards Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
By purchase to private collection, Sudbury, Massachusetts, March 19, 1954
By gift to collector’s son, private collection, Buckfield, Maine, 2013 to present
- Doll & Richards, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts / No.: (typed) B 11032 / Artist: (typed) Andrew Wyeth. American (1917- ) / Title: (typed) Winter Morning / Medium: (typed) Watercolor
- Andrew Wyeth Exhibition 1966-1967 / Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts / Baltimore Museum of Art / Whitney Museum of American Art / The Art Institute of Chicago / Title: (typed) Winter Morning 1946 / Cat. No.: (typed) 17 / Lender: (Anonymous) / Address: (Anonymous)
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts / Special Loan Exhibition / of / (typed) #5 / Title: (typed) Winter Morning / Artist: (typed) Wyeth / Owner: (Anonymous)
- (typed sticker, unknown source, but likely from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1976 exhibition) SL.76.118.1 / Winter Morning / (Anonymous)
- (handwritten sticker) “Winter Morning” / by Andrew Wyeth / Owned by – / (Anonymous)
- (typed digital/computer label, unknown source) Winter Morning 1946 / Drybrush / Private Collection
Wyeth at Kuerners, by Betsy James Wyeth (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1976), illustrated in full color on page 209.
- *Water Colors by Andrew Wyeth, Doll & Richards Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, November 18 – December 7, 1946
- *Water Colors by Andrew Wyeth, Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, from February 5, 1948
- *Watercolors by Alexander Bower, Eliot O’Hara, Vladimir Pavlosky, Andrew Wyeth, Doll & Richards Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, March 15 – March 27, 1948
- Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 1957
- *Wyeth exhibition, Hilson Gallery, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts, May 5 – June 6, 1957
- Andrew Wyeth: Temperas • Watercolors • Dry Brush • Drawings • 1938 into 1966, An Exhibition Organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 8 – November 27, 1966; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, December 13, 1966 – January 22, 1967; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, February 14 – April 2, 1967; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, April 21 – June 4, 1967), no. 17
- Andrew Wyeth, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, July 17 – September 6, 1970, no. 5, illus.
- Andrew Wyeth: Paintings & Drawings, Art Center in Hargate, St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire, April 4 – May 2, 1971
- Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, October 16, 1976 – February 6, 1977, no. 10, illus.
- Wyeth Family Exhibit held at the Sharon Arts Center, Peterborough, New Hampshire, July 25 – August 8, 1977
(*Exhibitions with an asterisk have been gleaned from the Wyeth Catalogue Raisonne’s summary report on the painting)