Wyeth, Andrew (Newell)(1917– ) painter; born in Chadds Ford, Pa. (son of N. C. Wyeth). Son of the well-known illustrator, he grew up in the atmosphere of an artist's studio and the natural world; a sinus condition kept him from attending school and he was tutored privately. He began drawing as a youth but not until about age 15 did he begin to get instructions from his father. By 1937 he had a one-man show of his watercolors at a New York gallery and found instant acceptance. In addition to watercolors he took up egg tempera as a medium and the dry-brush method, and working with a relatively restrained spectrum of colors, he proceeded to produce some of the best-known and most popular works of art by any American of his time—Christina's World (1948), The Trodden Weed (1951) and numerous other of his "typical" works that combine both a familiar vision of Americana along with suggestive themes and moods. Museum shows of his work have set records for attendance, and reproductions of his work have created an entire industry. He himself spent almost his entire life moving between Chadds Ford, Pa., and his summer home at Cushing, Maine. He first went to Europe in 1977 to be inducted into the French Academy of Fine Arts—the only American since Sargent to be so honored; the Soviet Academy of the Arts made him an honorary member in 1978. Although he was widely honored by official and popular circles, professional artists and critics tended to ignore or dismiss him as a popular/sentimental realist, but this does not seem to explain either his art or its appeal. Virtually a recluse, he surprised everyone when he released his series, The Helga Pictures (1971–85), which renewed speculations about his life and work.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.