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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guy Carleton Wiggins: Snowy Cityscapes and Seasonal Landscapes

Everybody knows Guy Carleton Wiggins for his fantastic New York City snow scenes. The roads littered with taxis, cars, and people, frozen in a moment of time as they embark on their long cold trek through the city. The hustle and bustle of the city captured within the canvas of a Wiggins painting show his profound love for New York. The perfect architectural rendition of the beautiful historic buildings that line the streets of New York create a wonderfully dynamic composition. Collectors love these pieces from Wiggins's oeuvre. However, it is his quiet, more intimate pastoral landscapes which truly exemplify his individualized style and artistic abilities.

New York Winter, 1929, Oil on canvas; Previously at MIR Appraisal Services

New York City has inspired numerous artists that have spent their entire lives trying to capture the true essence of the city. Guy Wiggins's paintings of New York City are his best known depictions. In fact, one of these snowy cityscape paintings was purchased for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, making Wiggins the youngest artist to achieve such a feat. Wiggins knew these were the works that made him a signification artist being well represented in world class collections. He once said, "One cold, blustering, snowy winter day (1912) I was in my New York studio trying to paint a summer landscape. Things wouldn't go right, and I sat idly looking out of a window at nothing. Suddenly I saw what was before me---an elevated railroad track, with a train dashing madly through the whirling blizzard-like snow that made hazy and indistinct the row of buildings on the far side of the street ("Metropolitan Tower, 1912" Metropolitan Museum, NY). Well, when I gave an exhibition a short time afterward . . . the winter canvases were sold before anything else. In a week, so to say, I was established as a painter of city winter scenes, and I found it profitable. Then suddenly I felt a revulsion against them and I stopped. Everyone said I was a fool and was shutting the door upon opportunity, maybe fame. Just the same I couldn't go on with winter stuff and that was all there was to it."

A New York City depiction by Wiggins is most likely going to be a winter scene. However, his landscape paintings evoke a sense of spontaneity as he experimented with colors and seasonal representations. His landscape impressions feel more personal and unique to Guy than his cityscapes, illustrating his version of impressionistic lighting and brushstrokes. His landscapes capture very good atmospheric affect through this style, and his choice of colors for these works exemplifies a seasonal distinction, making these works very dynamic, while his cityscapes are more tonal and subdued.

Bermuda Days, 1921, Oil on canvas; Previously at MIR Appraisal Services

Guy Wiggins used Old Lyme Connecticut as his muse for his landscapes. There was a strong artist colony in Old Lyme while he lived there, and Wiggins was able to learn and enhance his skills from the creative spirit and support of this historic art colony. The Old Lyme community consisted of well known artists such as Chile Hassam. Guy grew up in this area and held it very close to his heart. His father was a well known artist in Old Lyme, and later his son became one. The beautiful scenery in the area made it perfect for Guy to experiment with nature and organic forms. The artificial colors that the city would produce were never seen in Old Lyme. He was able to greatly expand his color palette and experiment with his style while working in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Seaside Sheep Pastures, Oil on canvas (From the Fox Chase Collection)

Guy Carleton Wiggins
will forever be known for his snowy New York City scenes. To this day, Cartier uses these scenes for their Christmas cards, and these works are displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These works deserve everything that they have achieved. However, they should never overshadow his landscapes. Even though they convey a different mood and subject matter, they are equally impressive. Hopefully in the future his landscapes will be held in the same regard as his cityscapes. Only time will tell. MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. has been fortunate enough to have researched and appraised various works by Guy Wiggins among other art collections. Consider our services for your art-related concerns.

Works cited:

Researched and written by Robert Snell

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510

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    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.