Did you know that three generations of Wyeths painted Maine landscapes that are so stunning they will knock you out of your socks? The Farnsworth Museum in Rockland Maine is devoted to their art as well as that of other Maine artists. Farnsworth Museum . It is well worth a trip.
The grandfather, NC Wyeth (1882 – 1945), was famous for his dramatic illustrations for classic books such as Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island.
Given the legend of NC Wyeth, it’s amazing that his son, Andrew Wyeth (1917 – 2009), had the courage to develop a very different style from his father, and that his father’s success didn’t completely destroy his son’s talent. From Andrew Wyeth’s obituary in the New York Times, “N.C. was a big man with tremendous energy, a kindly tyrant as a father, according to his children, who also remembered him for his flash temper. He created a hothouse environment in which Andrew, a frail boy who came down with one after another illness, was taught at home.“Pa kept me almost in a jail,” Wyeth recalled, “just kept me to himself in my own world, and he wouldn’t let anyone in on it.”
If you get the chance to spend some time travelling the Maine landscape, the accuracy and drama of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings reverberate deeply. Here is one of his most famous works, “Christina’s World”
The third generation of Wyeth painters, James Wyeth, was born in 1946. He showed tremendous painting talent very early, and had his first solo exhibition at age 20 just like his father. Although he shared his father and grandfather’s talent, like them, his creations were expressions of his own personal style and vision, and not copy-cat versions of their work. After President Kennedy’s assassination, Jamie Wyeth got permission to paint the President’s posthumous portrait, and even became a friend of the Kennedy clan.
It is rare to be able to see the work of grandfather, son and grandson, all in the same location. For those of us that appreciate multi-generational legacies, and diverse expressions of family talent across the generations, a visit to the Farnsworth Museum is a real treat.