Monday, March 6, 2017

Brandywine Museum II

The Brandywine River Art Museum seen from the north.

The Wyeth Family

N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) was one of America's foremost illustrators in the 20th century.
His renowned images of swahbuckling pirates, armor-clad knights, and hard riding cowboys
fired the imaginations of reasders for generations.

In 1902, twenty-year-old Newell Convers Wyeth, from Needham, MA, joined the Howard Pyle
School of Art in Wilmington, DE.  Pyle's influence was a vital catalyst, and after several years of study, 
Wyeth quickly became one of the period's most popular magazine illustrators.  In 1911, the publisher 
Charles Scribner's Sons commissioned Wyeth to illustrate a new edition of "Treasure Island."
Skillfully blending romance and realism into his pictures, he gave form to Stevenson's characters
and settings, creating vivid, dramatic images.  Ten years later - with a series of "Scribner's Classics" 
to his credi, Wyeth was as famous as the authors whose stories he illustrated. 

N.C. Wyeth settled in Chadds Ford, PA, in 1907.  He and his wife Carolyn raised five
talented children: three grew to be artists (Henriette, Carolyn, and Andrew), one a musician 
(Ann) and the fifth a mechanical engineer.  His two sons-in-law, Peter Hurd and John McCoy, 
were also artists, as is his grandson Jaime Wyeth.  Wyeth died suddenly in 1945.
Andrew is the youngest child in the photo above.

The interior of the Brandywine River Art Museum in the old part of the mill.

Wyeth was sought after for book and magazine commissions throughout his career; at the
same time, however, and like most illustrators of the period, he was troubled by the distinction
made between illustrators and artists.  To escape what he felt were the pejorative connotations
of being merely an illustrator, Wyeth sought recognition in other spheres of art.  His private work
 includes still lifes, portraits, and landscapes of Chadd's Ford, PA, as well as his summer property
in Port Clyde, Maine.  Wyeth also enjoyed a reputation as a muralist and painted advertising
images.  In every area, he proved himself to be an expert draughtsman and colorist.  Wyeth
explored various styles and mastered techniques from the broadly-brushed to the near-

N. C. Wyeth.  Illustration for "Treasure Island."

Wyeth created a large painting for each image he made for the book.  This painting, oil
on canvas, is about 4 x 8 feet.  Scribner's then had a plate made for each image to
reproduce these paintings as illustrations for the book.

N. C. Wyeth.  "The Hunter."

Wyeth did many illustrations for magazines.  This was for an issue of "The
Country Gentleman."  The painting is 8 feet long.

N. C. Wyeth.  "Last of the Mohicans."

Wyeth did illustrations for dozens of Scribner's books.  He retained the
original oil paintings, and they now make up the collection of the Brandywine.

N. C. Wyeth.  "The Boy's King Arthur."

Wyeth's combination of realism and romance shaped the
imagination of a generation of Americans and was highly popular.

N. C. Wyeth.  "The Drowning."

But Wyeth considered himself a serious artist as well as an illustrator,
and he painted as many other paintings as he did illustrations.  This painting,
with its distorted view, recounts the death of a friend of his in a small
boat off the coast of Maine.

N. C. Wyeth.  "I Saw George Washington in a Dream."

Wyeth also created fantasy works which combined realism and romance.
This self-portrait meeting General George Washington during a battle of
the Revolutionary War was one of the most popular.

Andrew Wyeth.  "Maga's Daughter."

Andrew was the youngest of N. C.'s children and the most successful
artist.  He was a sickly child and was home schooled by his parents.  His
drawing ability was prodigious and recognized early, and he was
encouraged in his pursuit.  He chose his models from among his
neighbors and friends in Chadds Ford, PA, and Maine.

Andrew Wyeth.  "Portrait of Siri."

Wyeth could work in any medium, but he gradually came to prefer
a combination of  watercolors and tempera.  In a work like this,
he shows his understanding of new modernist techniques of space and light,
as well as his skill in rendering portraits and details,

Andrew Wyeth.  "Watchful Dog."

Each element of the painting and fireplace is precisely drawn, and yet no one piece 
sticks out.  The dog is both sleepy and watching, its eyes half open.

Andrew Wyeth.  "Spring-fed Well."

Here he uses a very dry technique of painting and creates stillness and atmosphere.

Andrew Wyeth.  "Pentecost Morning."

Wyeth said this is what he remembered of a Pentecost Day, not the church nor
the preacher, but the light and the breeze, and the light curtain blowing.

Andrew Wyeth.  "Roasting Chestnuts."

Andrew Wyeth.  "Snow Hill Self-Portrait."

All of the figures above were neighbors who had posed for one or more pictures.  They
gathered in the snow to dance around a pole and sing.  Wyeth said they defined him.

Carolyn Wyeth.  "Nut Farm."

Carolyn used the simplified forms, geometric shapes, and large flat areas of color
in many of her works.

Carolyn Wyeth.  "The Open Window."

Henriette Wyeth.  "Pat Nixon."

Henriette was the eldest of N.C. Wyeth's five children and an accomplished
portrait painter.  Mrs. Nixon requested she do her portrait.

Henriette Wyeth.  "Portrait of Andrew Wyeth."

Henriette Wyeth married Peter Hurd of New Mexico and moved to the Southwest,
where her husband was an important painter of Western landscapes and portraits.

Jaime Wyeth.  "The Pig."  5 x 10 feet

Jaime was Andrew's son and taught by him; he also was a child prodigy and has been painting
 since a very early age.  He paints a variety of subjects, including animals.  This huge
painting of a pig seems appropriate for its subject.

Jaime Wyeth.  "Draft Age."

Jaime grew up during the Viet Nam War and responded to it.
The young man was a friend of his.

Jaime Wyeth.  "Nureyev."

Jaime met the Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev and became a good friend.
For 18 months, Jaime accompanied Nureyev to dance classes, rehearsals, practice 
sessions, and performances.  He eventually did more than 100 studies, drawings,
and paintings of Nureyev in formal poses as well as informal settings.
This is a chalk drawing of the dancer resting.

Jaime Wyeth.  "The Death of Nureyev."

The dream quality of the work recalls the dream of his grandfather
meeting George Washington.


American Landscapes - Scaife Bequest

Another special exhibit at the museum was  
"New Terrains: American Paintings 
from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest."

This exhibition presented over twenty-five important works of American art from
Richard M. Scaife, a Pittsburgh philanthropist and former trustee of the Brandywine.

Alfred Bricher.  "Maine Coast."

The long horizontal format, the contrast of land and water, and the
emphasis on atmosphere are all characteristics of the Luminist School
of the mid 19th century in the U.S.

Gottlieb Weber.  "Sunrise in the Alleghenies."

The mountains of New England were quite unlike the mountains of the Far West, and
in the late 19th century they came to be used for recreation and vacations for those
living in the cities on the East Coast.

Albert Bierstadt.  "Coast of California."

The Western U.S. was an unknown for most Americans.  Bierstadt's paintings, often
very large in scale of the Rockies, but here on a more intimate scale, began to introduce
Americans to the far western reaches of their country.

John Frederick Kensett.  "Cliffwalk - Newport, R.I."

Kensett was one of the leaders of the Luminist Movement.  The long horizontal format,
the meeting of sea and land, the emphasis on atmosphere are all characteristics of the style.

Worthington Whittridge.  "Narragansett Bay."

These paintings did not tell a story, narrate history, present a moral - they simply
extolled the beauty of the land of this very new country.

John Ross Key.  "Ladies of Lake George."

In the early days of the American Republic, people were all busy making a living and
getting along from day to day.  But by the second half of the 19th century, the idea of
taking a vacation and communing with nature away from the bustling cities and
pollution of factories became a common pursuit.  Lake George in upstate New York
was a particularly popular destination for hiking and outdoor exercise and vacations.

Edward Potthast. "The Front Porch."

Potthast was strongly influenced by the Impressionists of France and painted more
intimate views of landscape.  Here the front porch and adjacent yard make up the
landscape.  A watchful dog sits on the porch and watches for strangers.


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