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Newell Convers Wyeth (American, 1882-1945)


Also known as:  Wyeth, N. C.; N.C. Wyeth

Birth Place: Needham (Norfolk county, Massachusetts, United States)

Newell Convers Wyeth was born in Needham, Massachusetts in 1882 to a prominent American family. He was raised on the family farm and joined his three brothers in fishing, hunting, and various outdoor activities.

Wyeth began creating impressive watercolors at the age of 12. With his mother’s support, he attended the Mechanics Arts School, Massachusetts Normal Art School where he studied under Richard Andrew, and Eric Paper School of Art with George Loftus Noyes and Charles W. Reed. Afterwards, Wyeth attended Howard Pyle’s School of Art and immediately took to Pyle’s method. However, where Pyle produced extreme detail, N.C. Wyeth preferred looser strokes with darker backgrounds.

In 1903, Wyeth’s first commission as an illustrator, “A Bucking Bronco” for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, started his career. When Wyeth was asked again to produce a western theme piece, Pyle convinced Wyeth to go out west to gain personal experience with his subjects. Wyeth worked as a cowboy and mail carrier, which allowed him utilize his experiences to create realistic illustrations of the western landscape. Wyeth returned to the west several times during his career.

As Wyeth reached the age of thirty, he began to illustrate classic literature including Treasure Island, Robin Hood, The Last of the Mohicans, Robinson Crusoe, and Rip Van Winkle. All the while, he still completed commissions for Ladies’ Home Journal, McClure’s, Scribner’s, Harper’s Monthly, and Century as well as advertisements for companies like Cream of Wheat, Lucky Strike, and Coca-Cola. Despite receiving royalties for several of his illustrations, Wyeth began to resent the commercial art he produced and how heavily he relied upon it. Nevertheless, NC Wyeth would continue to paint whether it be illustrations, murals, or fine art.

Wyeth was soon considered one the greatest American illustration artists with continuous commissions and limitless energy. During his career, he produced 3000 paintings and illustrated 112 books, including 25 Scribner’s classics. In 1941 he was elected to the National Academy and exhibited his fine art landscapes and portraits on a regular basis. Wyeth was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Philadelphia Water Color Club, the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, and various other art associations. He was posthumously given an honorary Masters of Arts from Bowdoin College, and his studio and home in Chadds Ford was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. Currently, his artwork can be seen at the Brandywine River Museum, Portland Museum of Art, and Farnswoth Art Museum. His legacy goes beyond his art with extremely talented children and grandchildren including Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth, Ann Wyeth McCoy, Nathaniel C. Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, and Howard Wyeth.

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