He is known as the father of American illustration, whose dramatic depictions fuelled the imaginations of countless readers for generations (think Treasure Island and The Last of the Mohicans). Yet N. C. Wyeth was so much more.
He was a larger-than-life figure whose friends included Hollywood and literary luminaries of the 1920s and ’30s such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, and John Gilbert. Despite his celebrity status and commercial success, his lifelong ambition was to achieve public recognition as an accomplished artist.
Now you can discover more in an upcoming exhibition, N. C. Wyeth: New Perspectives, opening 22 June at the Brandywine River Museum of Art. It is the first in-depth show to establish his importance as a painter of the American scene. Capturing rural America during the first half of the 20th century, Wyeth conveyed its sense of rugged individualism and fertile natural landscapes through his superb sense of colour and composition and control of value and light.
Featured among the 70 paintings and drawings selected from major museums and private collections are under-recognised works ranging from Impressionist views of the Pennsylvania countryside to modernist interpretations of the Maine coast. They will be joined by iconic paintings created for murals, literature, magazine stories, and advertisements.
As the implied divisions between illustration and painting as well as commissioned and non-commissioned work have been blurred, it’s time to fully explore Wyeth’s incredible versatility and his distinct sense of place. N. C. Wyeth: New Perspectives will run until 15 September 2019. Discover more: brandywine.org.
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), The Harbor at Herring Gut, 1925, oil on canvas, 43 x 48 1/8 in. The Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), The man with the hatful of cards picked a hand out of his reserves, put the hat on his head and raised Bill a hundred. Bill came back with a raise of two hundred, and as the other covered it he shoved a pistol into his face observing: “I’m calling the hand that is in your hat.” 1916, oil on canvas, 32 x 40 in. William I. Koch Collection
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), April Rain, 1935, oil on canvas, 41 7/8 x 51 7/8 in. Private collection
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Island Funeral, 1939, egg tempera and oil on hardboard, 44 1/2 x 52 3/8 in. Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art, 2017
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