Art as a Family Affair — The Legacy of the Wyeths: Pt. 2 – Andrew Wyeth



[Guest post by Pat Knepley]

Andrew Wyeth is the beloved realist painter of the mid-twentieth century, known for Christina’s World, Groundhog’s Day and other idyllic settings of everyday objects and scenes Andrew Wyeth was N.C’.s younger son and the youngest of the five children. Though all of  N.C’.s children became talented artists under their father’s guidance, Andrew is the best known and most famous.

Andrew was born in 1917 in Chadd’s Ford Pennsylvania but spent many a summer in Maine with his family. At a very young age Andrew starting doing watercolors of the rocky Maine coast, and the interesting sea-faring life that abounded there. He had his first one-man exhibit at the age of twenty.

Though his watercolors showed a certain skill, it was his tempera paintings that distinguished Andrew from his siblings. Once Andrew discovered the centuries-old medium of egg tempera, he stayed in that medium for most of his career, creating some iconic images with an astounding level of detail and austere realism that was against the prevailing trends of bold abstraction in art in the middle of the twentieth century.

Andrew Wyeth most often utilized a limited palette of earth tones and this is often thought to be a reflection of his formative years during the Depression and World War II. He learned from his famous illustrator father to immerse himself in details, and really live with a subject for a while before trying to capture the essence on a canvas.  Andrew would take everyday objects, like a milking pail, or a raincoat on a wall hook, and imbue them with deeper meaning. Where father  N.C.was trying to tell a story in his art, son Andrew was trying to convey a feeling.

Christina’s World depicts a scene where Wyeth’s then neighbor, Christina Olsen, who suffered from an unknown illness that left her unable to use her legs, is laying on a hillside looking up to her farmhouse in the distance. This touching 1948 painting currently hangs in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and is the most well-known artwork of Andrew Wyeth’s career. Painted three years after father N.C’s tragic death in a train accident, some say it is a representation of Andrew’s grief.

Due to copyright restrictions, we cannot post photos of Andrew Wyeth’s work. To see some artwork by the legendary Andrew Wyeth, visit this website:


All of the Wyeths spent a considerable amount of time drawing as young artists, and even once they were store_art_classestablished, they would sketch their subject before they would paint. To learn the basics of drawing, a key part of any artist’s training, check out the See The Light Art Class series on DVD featuring the this column’s author Pat Knepley as Master Artist.

This 9-disc DVD set provides 36 lessons of basic drawing instruction for young artists age 6-12. Each skill-building lesson is presented from a biblical worldview.

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