Portland Museum of Art

Portland, Maine

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N. C. Wyeth: Precious Time


The dramatic and captivating images that Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) created during his lifetime established him as America's premier illustrator. Far less well-known to the public, but of equal or even greater importance to Wyeth himself, were his private paintings -- works that reveal his lifelong reverence for nature. N. C. Wyeth: Precious Time will feature more than 50 works spanning Wyeth's career through a variety of artistic styles including Realism, Impressionism, Post-impressionism, and Romanticism. N. C. Wyeth: Precious Time, on view from June 22, 2000 through October 15, 2000 at the Portland Museum of Art, will be a rare opportunity to view paintings that Wyeth created out of personal inspiration. (left: The Magic Pool, Spring, 1906, oil on canvas, 26 x 28 inches, Collection of Linda Bean Folkers)

"This is the first time that many of these paintings will be shown in Maine, " said Museum Director and exhibition curator Daniel E. O'Leary. "The exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity for the public to see N. C. Wyeth's easel paintings and experience his purely personal artistic values." (left: Bright and Fair- Eight Bells, 1936, oil on canvas, 42 3/8 x 52 1/4 inches, Collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1989, Photography by Melville D. Mclean)

N. C. Wyeth: Precious Time features the artist's earliest paintings beginning in 1902 until his tragic death in October 1945. The exhibition includes 14 of the artist's strongest paintings for publication, including dramatic scenes from Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Westward Ho! The exhibition then looks at Wyeth's personal creations: landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and seascapes. It was through these latter expressions that he felt he could best grow and develop a voice as an artist. The contrasts between these two styles of work illustrate his search for a mode of visual expression and explore the contrast between his commissioned artworks and his purely artistic ventures. (right: Untitled (Summer Teel's Fish-house, Port Clyde), c. 1930, oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches, Collection of Linda Bean Folkers)

Wyeth's dilemma in life was that his extraordinary success as an illustrator meant that he was constantly sought by publishers and editors, leaving little time to pursue his foremost desire to paint landscapes and seascapes which captured the sublimity and emotion in nature which he so admired. (right: Black Spruce Ledge, 1941, oil and tempera on Renaissance panel , 42 x 52 inches, Collection of Linda Bean Folkers)

Wyeth made a personal commitment to create artworks that were important to him. His private paintings allowed him to explore a variety of styles, techniques, and subject matter. A majority of these works contemplated the landscape and people around him in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the town and surrounding islands near the family's summer home in Port Clyde, Maine, which N. C. co-purchased in 1920. The coast of Maine became his primary source of inspiration towards the latter part of his life.

Collectively, the works from N. C. Wyeth: Precious Time represent Wyeth's ardent efforts to capitalize wisely and fully upon what he perceived as his most valuable resource: the precious time when he could live entirely as an artist.

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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/1/11

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