N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)The Blind Leading the Blindca. 1926 / 1927Oil on canvas, 45 x 40 1/4 in. (114.2 x 102.2 cm)Collection of the Farnsworth Art MuseumGift of Charles D. Childs, 1963
The Blind Leading the Blind
Oil on canvas
Lower left: N. C. WYETH (underlined); written directly onto stretcher member: #19323 / 45 x 40 1/4"; inscription written on tape adhered to stretcher member: N. C. Wyeth / The Blind Leading / Blind - Parables / $750.00
ca. 1926 / 1927
Heirs of Robert Winsor; (Vose Galleries, Boston, MA, 1957 - 1962); (Childs Gallery, Boston, MA, 1963)
possibly Scribner's, New York, NY, April, 1931 (see curatorial comment); Boston, MA, Vose Galleries, Dec. 1957; Northfield, MA, Mount Hermon School, "Wyeth Exhibit," May 8 - 23, 1965, no. 1
One of The Parables of Jesus series, commissioned by Robert Winsor of the Unitarian Laymen's League, Boston
Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings (London: Scala, 2008), I.1033, p. 491
The original intention for the Parable series was never realized. Wyeth wrote to Sidney M. Chase in Oct. 1922, "Have just signed a contract to do the Parables for Robert Winsor of Boston. It's a big chance and a big proposition. A mighty interesting scheme throughout. Taft (William Howard) is to write the forward and the imprint will be the University Press in Cambridge. 50,000 copies, first editions, etc." (Wyeth Family Archives, NCW to Sidney M. Chase, Oct. 16, 1922). At one time, at least 20 illustrations were considered, but by May 5, 1927, only 12 had been completed (NCW to Andrew Newell Wyeth, May 20, 1927, Wyeth Family Archives). Robert Winsor (1858-1930) was a Boston investment banker and supporter of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
No known archival material clearly explains the ownership of the 12 Parable paintings and Andrew Wyeth has confirmed the confusion. Apparently, each picture was jointly owned by Robert Winsor and N. C. Wyeth, for on May 20, 1927 the artist wrote to his father stating he owned "half interest in the originals" and expressing a desire to buy back the complete set "after (Winsor) has made full use of them" (NCW to ANW, May 20, 1927, Wyeth Family Archives). Just before Winsor died in January 1930, Wyeth assembled all 12 in order to reproduce them in some way (NCW to Roger L. Scaife, Jan. 8, 1930, Houghton Mifflin Archives, Houghton Library, Harvard University).
The BRM holds papers that list the biblical citations that inspired Wyeth and a rough copy of his text for the catalogue of the Wilmington, DE, 1930 exhibition which included the artist's remarks about each Parable painting.
A selection of paintings from The Parables must have been shown in New York in the spring of 1931, for in "Art that is now being shown in various New York galleries," Times writer Ruth Green Harris noted "N. C. Wyeth, at Scribner's, shows paintings, many of which illustrate Old Testament scenes." (NYT, April 12, 1931; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, pg. X10).