Artists & Designers

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

Andrew Wyeth was the youngest son of N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), a prominent illustrator and painter who encouraged his son's interest in art and stressed a foundation in academic drawing. Andrew Wyeth's siblings also achieved prominence in their chosen fields: his two oldest sisters both had successful careers as painters, another became a composer and his brother was an engineer and inventor. Andrew Wyeth's son Jamie (b. 1946) also became a successful artist and continues to paint New England in a style reminiscent of his extended family.

Wyeth's earliest exhibited works were watercolors, but he became proficient in tempera painting after his brother-in-law, Peter Hurd (1904-1984), introduced both Andrew and N.C. Wyeth to the medium in the late 1930s. For subjects, Wyeth turned to the people and landscapes with which he was most familiar. The Wyeth's primary residence was in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and they spent summers in Port Clyde, Maine. In his choice of subject matter Wyeth represents an alternative to the the predominantly nonrepresentational schools that dominated American art starting in the late 1940s. His realism brought wide public acclaim, but art critics scoffed at his adherence to an "outdated" approach.

In addition to the influence of Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and fellow Pennsylvanian, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Wyeth greatly admired the subdued palettes and precise draughtsmanship of European artists like Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and Albrecht Durer (1471-1528). Near the end of his life scholars also recognized that his body of work contained strong elements of abstract design, aligning him with his earlier American contemporaries, Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) and Charles Burchfield (1893-1967).

Adapted from

  • Eleanor Jones Harvey, "Andrew Wyeth, That Gentleman," in_ Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection_, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 262.
  • "Andrew Wyeth, That Gentleman," DMA Connect, Dallas Museum of Art, 2012.

Related Multimedia

Bromberg Distinguished Lecture Series; in conjunction with An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, September 29-November 29, 1987; Wilmerding was the Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and curator of concurrent NGA exhibition Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures
Bromberg Distinguished Lecture Series; in conjunction with An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, September 29-November 29, 1987; Wilmerding was the Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and curator of concurrent NGA exhibition Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures

Fun Facts

Wyeth received numerous accolades during his life. He was the first artist to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963), the first living artist to exhibit at the White House (1970) and to be given a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1976). He was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (1990) and the National Medal of Arts (2007).

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