Searching for Jimmy
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.
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.
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.
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.
If anyone recognizes the man or his wife, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d love to know more about this man who posed for 3 artists.