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    • Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)


        Artist

        Unlike many great artists who scuttled off to Paris, Provence or New York in search of inspiration, education, the companionship of like-minded creative spirits and, most importantly of all, unlimited 'how's your father', Andrew Wyeth went no further than his own backyard. He simply absorbed some stunning scenery, checked out whichever book illustration his famous artist dad, N.C. Wyeth, happened to be working on, tapped into his own tremendous talent for portraying nature, human and otherwise, and the rest is his local history.

        Andrew was born at Chadd's Ford (where he lived for much of his life) in Pennsylvania and, because of a delicate disposition, was educated at the 'school of the kitchen table', benefiting brilliantly from dad's home tuition art course. When he was 20 he put together his first one-youth show of watercolours painted around the family's seaside hideaway in Maine and sold the lot. Recognising a cornucopia of subject matter when he saw one, he had the good sense to continue spending his summers in Maine, first of all at the family place and then at his own house where he embarked on a sort of 'closely-observed-next-door-neighbours' series.

        It began in the late 1930s and continued for more than 50 years, thus enabling Wyeth fans to watch the craggy features of 'neighbour Walt' mature like fine wine. The most famous of the Maine pictures are the ones based on neighbour Olsons' house (now a Wyeth museum), the artistic high point being the megafamous Christina's World (or Shucks, must get that downpipe fixed), which he painted in 1948.

        Andrew's son, Jamie (b.1946), is also a well-respected artist.

        There are works in Boston, Chadds Farm (Brandywine River Mus.), Chicago, Hartford Conn., Houston Tex., New York (M of MA) and Philadelphia.


        Trivia:

      • He was taught to paint by his father, and uses watercolour and tempera.

      • Spends his summers in Maine, and works between Chadds Farm and Maine.

      • Paints the scenes around him: farms and farmhouses, fields with carts, land being worked, winter on the land, and the thaw on the Brandywine River, all in the most meticulous technique and piercing veracity, its rare beauties and grim tragedies, and with no attempt to prettify or soften even the obvious hardness of the world about him.


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Updated: 2013