This exhibition is a presentation of nearly 50 paintings and drawings of local buildings that inspired Wyeth time and again over seven decades of his career.
The artworks in this exhibition are drawn exclusively from the nearly 7,000-object Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection of the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, now managed by the Brandywine. Many of these pieces have never before been exhibited, offering a first glimpse at a significant treasure trove that will shed new light on the collaborative creative process of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth.
Andrew Wyeth: Home Places shares the story of a remarkable immersive and intensive artistic practice that ranged across the full array of media Andrew Wyeth practiced. Over the course of a long and diverse career of many chapters, Wyeth repeatedly depicted a small group of historic houses in the vicinity of his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. In these weathered buildings others might have overlooked or even scorned in the face of gentrification and commercial development of the region, Wyeth found layers of emotion and association. These structures—both venerable and vulnerable in a changing Brandywine Valley—served as a means of pursuing his abiding attention to that which lies beneath the surface of things. Through living in this landscape his whole life, he engaged in an artistic practice of uncommon focus over an extended timescale, coming to know deeply the evocative buildings in a radius of just a few square miles and rendering them in an astonishing variety of compositions, handlings and approaches. As Wyeth said, “You can be in a place for years and years and not see something, and then when it dawns, all sorts of nuggets of richness start popping all over the place. You’ve gotten below the obvious.”
Among the previously unexhibited works on view are the charming early oil The Miller’s Son, painted when Wyeth was just 17 years old, and the stunning watercolor Noah’s Ark Study made at age 87—both depicting the same property, Brinton’s Mill. That the Wyeths came to own and restore this property for use as their primary residence is among the many contributions of Betsy James Wyeth, whose distinct role in stewarding historic properties in Pennsylvania and Maine, which informed her husband’s painting practice, is a key context of this exhibition.
This exhibition is made possible with support from The Wyeth Foundation for American Art.