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Images from the Brandywine Museum

Post #737 • February 23, 2006, 12:03 PM • 2 Comments

It didn't look like this exactly when we visited in January - it more resembled one of the cold-bitten landscapes one sees in Andrew Wyeth's work. Nevertheless, this beautiful museum in Chadds Ford, right on the Brandywine River, displayed splendid collections of American illustration and the realists in and around clan Wyeth.

I had no idea that N.C. Wyeth painted as large as he did. It seemed a perverse thing to do as an illustrator, as it would necessitate scaling down to 10% of the original for reproduction. But he thought of himself as a painter first and foremost. He experimented with Impressionism and even a kind of Pointillism. He created the contemporary image of the pirate and the forest warrior, but empathy drove the work as much as narrative. "If you paint a man leaning over, your own back must ache," he said. His combat scenes could only have been painted by someone who knew how to throw a punch.

Rotating exhibits of Andrew Wyeth's work go through rooms dedicated to him. I have now seen a few hundred works of his in person, and they keep confirming that despite some awkward moments, Wyeth has a consistent ability to deliver graphic force even with meticulously rendered images. Jamie Wyeth, for all his skill, tends to come under him. So will be his heir? Maybe Bo Bartlett.

I think that if they ever get MAM into Bicentennial Park, it should also have a nature conservancy attached to it.



James W. Bailey

February 23, 2006, 7:17 PM

Dear Franklin,

I would like to add that this wonderful museum has organized one of the most professional capital campaigns that I have ever seen. They are truly to be commended for laying the ground work with their community to realize a strong, vibrant and sustainable future for this cultural asset. More information can be read at

The Brandywine Museum's capital camaign is a case study in all the right things to do to build broad support within a community for such a project.




February 24, 2006, 6:55 PM

Well, James, I expect the people responsible truly believe in what they're doing, meaning it's a labor of love and faith more than career moves and/or other less-than-exalted motives. That can make a huge difference, and frequently does.



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