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Searching for Jimmy

Searching for Jimmy

N. C. Wyeth Studio
January 9, 2018

In the winter of 1934-35, Andrew Wyeth and his soon-to-be brother-in-law, John McCoy, were studying under N. C. Wyeth in the famed artist’s studio, working on many subjects side-by-side. 

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), My Father’s Studio, 1934, Oil on canvas, The Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), My Father’s Studio, 1934, Oil on canvas, The Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection
John McCoy (1910-1989), Studio Still Life, 1934, Oil on canvas, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Anna B. McCoy, 2015
John McCoy (1910-1989), Studio Still Life, 1934, Oil on canvas, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Anna B. McCoy, 2015
In the canvases above, young Wyeth and John McCoy painted the same still life composition, arranged on a table in N. C. Wyeth’s studio. Each aspiring artist took a slightly different perspective, the result of easel placement, and each adopted his own sense of detail. The black hat seen hanging on a chair on the left must have been a studio prop, for it appears again in two portraits, one by Andrew and one by John, of the same model. The one by Andrew Wyeth is currently on display at the museum.

John McCoy, Jimmy, 1934, Oil on canvas, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Anna B. McCoy in honor of Frolic Weymouth's vision, 2015
John McCoy, Jimmy, 1934, Oil on canvas, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Anna B. McCoy in honor of Frolic Weymouth's vision, 2015
In both Andrew Wyeth’s portrait, and John McCoy’s, pictured here, the sitter, with his gaunt face and inscrutable, taciturn expression, is presented as a compelling subject and Peter Hurd, another Wyeth brother-in-law, joined the two young artists as they painted. Hurd drew the sitter with the greasy black crayons used to make lithographs. The image below is of the lithographic print Peter Hurd made of the same man.

Peter Hurd (1904-1984), Pennsylvania Quaker, ca. 1934-35, Lithograph on paper, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 2013
Peter Hurd (1904-1984), Pennsylvania Quaker, ca. 1934-35, Lithograph on paper, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Museum purchase, 2013
Which leads us to the question, who was the man?  We know his first name was Jimmy—notes written later by John McCoy and Andrew Wyeth agree on this. He was referred to as a Quaker, but perhaps that only stems from the Quaker-style hat he wore while he posed. We believe he lived locally (in the Chadds Ford area) and we believe this portrait, titled Mita, was of his wife.

John McCoy (1910-1989), Mita, 1935, Oil on canvas, Gift of Anna B. McCoy in honor of Frolic Weymouth's vision, 2015
John McCoy (1910-1989), Mita, 1935, Oil on canvas, Gift of Anna B. McCoy in honor of Frolic Weymouth's vision, 2015
If anyone recognizes the man or his wife, please contact us at information@brandywine.org! We’d love to know more about this man who posed for 3 artists.