Artist Trivia: N.C. Wyeth

N.C. Wyeth, King Edward, 1921, Oil on canvas, 40 x 32 3/8 inches, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Burrage, Jr., 1991.1

Who is this artist?

Growing up on a farm in Needham, Massachusetts late in the nineteenth century, the artist-to-be developed a love of nature. At Mechanic Arts High School in Boston the artist excelled in drafting before developing as an illustrator during studies at Massachusetts Normal Art School. Howard Pyle then taught the young artist at his school in Delaware the importance of dramatic effects in painting, personal knowledge of one’s subject and even the importance of sound. This eager student submitted a cover illustration to the Saturday Evening Post after studying illustration for a mere five months. This painter traveled to the American West between the years of 1904-1906 beginning at the age of 22,  to paint from direct experience and observation.  

This illustrator and painter would’ve been 140 on October 22.

Who is N.C. Wyeth?

Newall Convers Wyeth grew up near Boston, Massachusetts. By the age of 25, his illustrations appeared in the most popular magazines of the time including Harper’s Monthly and Ladies Home Journal.  After studying illustration with illustrator, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth met and married Carolyn Brennem Bockius of Wilmington, DE in 1906.  The couple married and in 1908 moved to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, which was just ten miles north of Wilmington, DE on the Brandywine Creek.  The Wyeths bought 18 acres of land in the rolling hills of the Brandywine valley in 1911. The property was not far from a Revolutionary War battlefield which appealed to Wyeth’s love of history.  Together they built a home and studio and raised their five children there.  Also in 1911, Charles Scribner’s Sons hired N.C. Wyeth to illustrate Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island.  The seventeen paintings he created for the book were masterpieces in illustration. He adeptly combined action and character study which enriched the story beyond the text in a complexity of composition and color.  Wyeth continued to work for Scribner’s, illustrating many classic stories.  He also painted landscapes, still life paintings and portraits on his own where he experimented with a wide variety of subjects and styles.  The Wyeth family enjoyed summers in Port Clyde, Maine beginning in 1910. In 1920, they purchased Captain Norris Seavy’s home in Port Clyde, which they later named, Eight Bells, after a Winslow Homer painting titled, Bright and Fair-Eight Bells, 1936. Tragically, N.C. Wyeth was killed when a train hit his car near his Chadds Ford home in 1945.  His legacy lives on through his five talented children, including painter, Andrew Wyeth, and grandson, painter, Jamie Wyeth.

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