biography of Newell Convers WYETH (1882-1945)

Birth place: Needham, MA

Death place: Chadds Ford, PA

Addresses: Chadds Ford, PA/Port Clyde, ME

Profession: Painter, illustrator, mural painter, decorator, teacher

Studied: Mechanics Art Sch., Boston, 1899; Massachusetts Normal Art Sch. with R. Andrew; Eric Pape Sch. Art, Boston, with G.L. Noyes, C. W. Reed; H. Pyle, 1902-11

Exhibited: Phila. WCC, 1910 (prize); PAFA Ann., 1911, 1920-46; Pan-Pacific Expo, San Francisco, 1915 (gold); Wash. SA, 1931 (medal); Corcoran Gal. biennials, 1930-45 (7 times; incl. 4th prize, 1932); Macbeth Gal., NY, 1939 (solo); AIC.

Member: SI, 1912; Wilmington Soc. FA; Phila. All.; Chester County AA; NA, 1941

Work: murals, Capitol, MO; Hotel Traymore, Atlantic City; Reading Mus. FA; Fed. Reserve Bank, First Nat. Bank, both in Boston; NYPL; Franklin Savings Bank, NYC; First Mechanics Bank, NYC; First Mechanics Nat. Bank, Trenton; Roosevelt Hotel dining room, NYC; Penn Mutual Life Insurance Bldg., Phila.; Wilmington Savings Fund Soc., DE; altar in Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Nat. Cathedral, Washington, DC.

Comments: Howard Pyle"s greatest student, he produced more than 3,000 illustrations for hundreds of articles, numerous posters, and more than 100 books. He began illustrating for Saturday Evening Post, and by 1904 his work (mostly cow-punching westerns) was accepted by Scribner"s; however, his breakthrough work came in 1911 when he illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson"s Treasure Island for Scribner"s. He continued to illustrate other books in the Scribner"s Illustrated Classics series, including Kidnapped, The Boy"s King Arthur, Black Arrow, The Mysterious Island, Westward Ho!, Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe, Drums and others. His works assumed a child"s-eye view and featured characters in exacting detail, often dramatized by long shadows รณ a style that clearly had an effect on the epic movies of the 1940s. He spent many summers painting on Monhegan Island (ME) where he accompanied the fishermen on their trips. In 1945 his car stalled (or he stopped it) on a railroad track and an onrushing milk train killed him, his daughter-in-law, and his grandson. Of his painter-children, Andrew became the most famous.

Sources: P&H Samuels, 541-42; Curtis, Curtis, and Lieberman, 140, 187. More recently, see David Michaelis N.C. Wyeth (first biography on the artist; Knopf pub., 1998); Falk, Exh. Record Series.

Legals