Night Hauling was painted by the twenty-seven-year-old Andrew Wyeth at the height of World War Two. Set against the Maine coast in Port Clyde, where Wyeth’s family summered, it depicts a shadowy lobsterman hauling in a trap under cover of darkness, the scene lit only by the figure’s concealed lamp and the water’s startling nocturnal phosphorescence. Wyeth originally called the painting The Poacher, a title that allows us entry into the work’s literal narrative, while denying none of its mystery and ritual. Typical of the artist’s work from this period, Night Hauling pushes realism to the brink of surrealist fantasy. The son of famed illustrator N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth emerged at mid-century as one of America’s most popular painters.
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