One of the most famous illustrators from America’s Golden Age of Illustration was Newell Convers Wyeth. Also an accomplished easel painter, Newell Convers Wyeth was born on October 22, 1882. He was the eldest of four sons of Andrew Newell Wyeth, a farmer, and Henriette Zirngiebel. Growing up in a rural setting gave the young “N.C.” a deep love for the land and a great understanding of the human form in motion. N.C. had a keen ability for recalling the smallest visual details of a scene—something that would serve him well as an illustrator.
It was N.C.’s mother who encouraged his artistic ability and she who convinced his father to allow N.C. to attend art school instead of an apprenticeship to a New Hampshire Farm. N.C. attended the Mechanic Art School in Boston, graduating in 1899. He continued his studies at the Massachusetts Normal Art School and the Eric Pape School of Art in 1902. Through a fellow student, he was encouraged to apply for the Howard Pyle School in Delaware.
Howard Pyle was the most famous Illustrator of his time. His school was free to anyone who met Pyle’s standard for artistic excellence and hard work. Within 4 months, the 20 year old N.C. rose to the top of his class. Pyle encouraged his students to paint from life, whenever possible.
Although N.C was marginalized by other artists during his lifetime because he chose illustration as his occupation, his illustrations have stood the test of time as great paintings. N.C. became one of the most successful illustrators in America, illustrating such classics as Treasure Island, Last of the Mohicans, Robin Hood and Robinson Crusoe.
Throughout his career, N.C. would return to his passion for the land and people close to his homes in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Port Clyde, Maine. These canvases not only have his illustrator’s skill of exceptional facility, but also a deep understanding of the land and the people who worked it.
N.C. Wyeth created what is one of the most impressive art families in America. His sons and daughters went on to become successful artists in their own right. His son, Andrew, and his grandson, Jamie, are continuing the legacy to this day.
N.C. was tragically killed with his grandson, Newell, when his car stalled on the train tracks near his house in 1945.
Not For Publication: Landscapes, Still Lifes, and Portraits by N.C Wyeth
Brandywine River Museum 1982
N.C. Wyeth A Biography
N.C. Wyeth: the Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals
Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, JR.
I don’t want to be rated as an illustrator trying to paint, but as a painter who has shaken the dust of the illustrator from his heels!! ~Newell Convers Wyeth