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Swift reflects on the Wyeth Family of Artists

By Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian

I had seen and heard a story on television about the famous James (Jamie) Browning Wyeth and as I was going through my mail that same day what would be included in the bills and campaign literature but a Saturday Evening Post Magazine with — you guessed it — a Post Cover with a very interesting story about the Wyeth family who has been dominant as artists and illustrators for many years. I had recently re-subscribed to the Post and this (I think) was the first issue on that subscription that I had found in my mailbox (a real mailbox, not the e-mail kind).
I have enjoyed reading the Post and admiring the pictures between its covers for many years. The recent issue featuring one of Jamie Wyeth’s works on the cover was no exception. Jamie was a grandson of N. C. Jamie’s father was Andrew Wyeth who became quiet famous as an artist.
Some other of N.C. Wyeth’s five children studied under their father and became artists in their own right.

The most famous Wyeth family artists include N. C. Wyeth’s son, Andrew Newell Wyeth and grandson James Browning (Jamie) Wyeth. N. C. was born in Needham, Massachusetts on October 22, 1882. He left Massachusetts in 1902 to study with the noted illustrator Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. Inspired by Pyle, N. C. soon became one of the most famous illustrators in the United States. N. C. had a naturalistic style.  He illustrated some 20 classics of children’s literature, including Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, The Last of the Mohicans and Tom Sawyer. N. C. died in a car accident near Chadds Ford on October 19, 1945.

Andrew, best know of the second generation of the Wyeth family artists, was born in Chadds ford on July 12, 1917. Andrew painted with precision. His landscapes and portraits often evoked a mood of sadness.  He came to be one of the most popular American Painters of his day. Among his works are Christina’s World, A Crow Flew By, Young America and Her Room.
Jamie was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 6, 1946. He became a masterful portrait artist. His portrait of the late President John F. Kennedy was instrumental in projecting his fame. He often painted the people and countryside of rural America.
The Post cover is a painting by Jamie Wyeth depicting a lighthouse with flowers in the foreground. That cover makes me want to see more of Jamie Wyeth’s work.