Wyeth Family

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

Wyeth is the name of a prominent family of American artists. Through three generations that spanned the 1900's, the family produced several of the country's best-known painters.

Newell Convers Wyeth, known as N. C. Wyeth, was born in Needham, Massachusetts, on October 22, 1882. After attending art school in Boston, he left Massachusetts in 1902 to study with the noted illustrator Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. Pyle was a great inspiration to Wyeth, who soon became one of the most widely acclaimed illustrators in the United States.

Wyeth's naturalistic style was well suited to the illustrations of adventure tales and historical fiction for which he became famous. In all, he illustrated some 20 classics of children's literature, including Treasure Island,Robinson Crusoe, The Last of the Mohicans, and Tom Sawyer.

Wyeth was also active as a mural painter and an art teacher. He established a permanent family residence in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, near the Brandywine River. Several of his five children studied under their father and became artists in their own right. Wyeth died in a car accident near Chadds Ford on October 19, 1945.

Andrew Newell Wyeth, the best known of the second generation of Wyeth artists, was born in Chadds Ford on July 12, 1917. Like his father, he was a superb draftsman (master of drawing), and he painted with realistic precision and attention to detail. His landscapes and portraits, done mainly in egg tempera or watercolor, often evoke a mood of sadness or loneliness. Wyeth's subjects were drawn from the two communities in which he lived--the rural countryside of Chadds Ford and the seacoast and fishing villages around his summer home in Cushing, Maine. He was one of the most popular American painters of his day. Among his best-known works are Christina's World (1948), A Crow Flew By (1950), Young America (1950), and Her Room (1963). Equally famous were what came to be called his Helga Pictures. Wyeth created this series of paintings and drawings of the model Helga Testorf between 1971 and 1985. Andrew Wyeth died in Chadds Ford on January 16, 2009.

Andrew's son James Browning Wyeth, known as Jamie Wyeth, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 6, 1946. Privately trained in art, he also studied anatomy at a New York hospital. He became a masterful portrait artist, gaining national attention in 1967 with a compelling portrait of the late President John F. Kennedy. Like his father and grandfather, Jamie Wyeth often painted the people and countryside of rural America, thus continuing the family's traditional devotion to the American heritage.

Howard E. Wooden
Director Emeritus, The Wichita Art Museum

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