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Betsy Wyeth: Partner and Muse

Through October 24, 2021

Exhibition Dates

Through October 24, 2021

Buy Tickets Exhibitions are free with admission.

Betsy James Wyeth ( 1921-2020) passed away last spring at the age of ninety-eight, and in her memory the Wyeth Study Center and the Farnsworth Art Museum are pleased to present a selection of portraits drawn and painted by her husband, Andrew. Betsy was his most trusted critic, business manager, and muse. She was also a mother, author, filmmaker, and archivist, and she often selected the titles for Andrew’s paintings. He said that “she made me see more clearly what I wanted,” and that “Betsy galvanized me at the time I needed it. She’s made me into a painter I would not have been otherwise.”

Betsy appears in Andrew’s paintings from the summer they met, in 1939, to the summer before his death, in 2009. Depicting Betsy as curious, confident, and determined, the works in this show, drawn from the couple’s personal collection, offer a glimpse into Betsy’s life rarely seen outside her family circle. Betsy’s interest in architecture, history, islands, cooking, birdwatching, and knitting are evident in these works and in many of Andrew’s other paintings.

Betsy’s generosity and vision have made a lasting impact on Maine and American art. She co-founded both the Wyeth Foundation for American Art and the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Both organizations focus on the study, appreciation, and history of American art. Betsy’s 1971 book, The Wyeths: The Letters of N. C. Wyeth, 1901-1945, led to a reassessment of N.C. Wyeth’s artistic legacy.

Locally, Betsy supported the Farnsworth’ s efforts to create the Wyeth Center and Wyeth Study Center galleries, spaces devoted to showing the work of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth. She also played a pivotal role in founding the Island Institute, and she created the Up East Foundation. Among other initiatives, Up East preserved seventeen acres of Christina and Alvaro Olsons’ saltwater farm, the place that inspired some three hundred works by Andrew Wyeth- including his iconic 1948 painting Christina’s World, which Betsy both titled and posed for.