October 1998


By David Michaelis
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David Michaelis notes, in this handsomely illustrated and carefully detailed biography, that the artist acclaimed as dean of American illustrators did not want to think that his future reputation depended upon his narrative painting. Even though, by 1942, his name was stamped on the spines of a long shelf of literature, more than a hundred volumes, Newell Convers Wyeth still felt after 40 years of picture making that everything he had done seemed insufficient. Part of the reason for that sense of inadequacy was that, all his life, N.C. Wyeth wanted to shake the dust of the illustrator from his shoes and emerge into the art world as a real painter. Following Wyeth’s death, October 19, 1945, in a car-train collision, the magnitude of his work still appeared ambiguous if not misunderstood. The Washington, D.C. Evening Star wrote: Thousands of people admired his achievements without comprehending why they were good. On the other hand, he was a painter’s painter, an illustrator’s illustrator. But those qualities that made him supreme as an illustrator are just those qualities that distinguish Wyeth as a real painter. Through his narrative paintings for Treasure Island (1911) to those in The Yearling (1939) in masterpiece after masterpiece of illustration Wyeth thrilled the viewer with the danger and excitement of seeing

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N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

By David Michaelis
ISBN 9780679426264

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