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The Brandywine River Museum will present the first in a series of exhibitions focusing on a major work of art. Andrew Wyeth's "Ides of March:" The Making of a Masterpiece presents this rarely-seen tempera painting from 1974 along with more than 30 studies that were instrumental in its development. Displayed together for the first time, these works provide remarkable insight into Wyeth's creative approach and evocative imagery. The exhibition is on view from March 16 through May 19 and is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with an essay by Virginia O'Hara, curator of collections at the Brandywine River Museum and curator of the exhibition. Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) rarely discussed his work. With few exceptions, he also chose not to exhibit his studies. The drawings, to him, did not have any lasting value beyond their purpose as reference material.
The exhibition is part of a five-year initiative by the Brandywine River Museum to reexamine the work of the extended Wyeth family of artists. The first milestone in this initiative was the opening of the Andrew Wyeth's Chadds Ford studio for tours in 2012.
Wyeth's initial concept for Ides of March sprung from his fascination with the abstract, geometric forms of the large fireplace in his own home in Chadds Ford and the dramatic contrast of light and dark therein. As shown in the exhibition, the artist's initial drawing was a small monochromatic sketch in which he roughed-out a dark rectangle for the fireplace's shadowed recess. At the bottom of this frameworkand developed further in subsequent drawingsis the simplified, white triangular shape of his dog, Nell. From this spare, notational beginning, the exhibition follows Wyeth as he explored various options for the composition in a series of pencil and watercolor drawings, changing the angle of view and the position of the natural light falling across the fireplace. Moving into watercolor, he then tested a rich earthy palette and established the elegiac tone and mood for the composition.
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