N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

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9780060089269: N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

His name summons up our earliest images of the beloved books we read as children. His illustrations for Scribner's Illustrated Classics (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Last of the Mohicans, The Yearling) are etched into the collective memory of generations of readers. He was hailed as the greatest American illustrator of his day. For forty-three years, starting in 1902, N.C. Wyeth painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and murals, as well as illustrations for a long shelf of world literature. Yet despite worldwide acclaim, he judged himself a failure, believing that illustration was of no importance.

David Michaelis tells the story of Wyeth's family through four generations -- a saga that begins and ends with tragedy -- and brings to life the huge-spirited, deeply complicated man, and an America that was quickly vanishing.

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Review:

N.C. Wyeth's wondrous paintings of The Last of the Mohicans, Robinson Crusoe, and Treasure Island have given visual form to these stories for generations of readers. Wyeth's extraordinary pictures still carry all the power they had in their heyday. And communal, millennial-bound nostalgia for the first half of the 20th century gives the paintings, if possible, an even more sentimental glow. This meticulous, encompassing study of the tempestuous, difficult, brilliant illustrator also delves into the entire clan of famous Wyeth artists, including Andrew (who was offered a bribe to delay his marriage), and Peter Hurd (who married Andrew's sister Henriette then escaped with her to New Mexico).

David Michaelis has done an extraordinary amount of research, and the book should mesmerize Wyeth fans. But he seems to doubt his own ability to make this dramatic material come alive, for he resorts to false suspense--using a baby's death and the suggestion of foul play on page 1 to hook the reader, but nearly 200 pages later allows that there's not really any evidence for his conjectures. And he liberally employs italics, giving the text an insistent tone that is at times intrusive. Nonetheless, Michaelis adroitly chronicles Wyeth's complicated, fraught relationship with his family. And he is especially perceptive in his analysis of N.C.'s stormy ties to his mentor, Howard Pyle. The artist's genteel inability to talk money, even during the Depression; his devotion to his neurotic mother; and the magical world of Chadd's Ford, where he watchfully, jealously raised his children, are all beautifully described. This is a valuable, multifaceted look at a passionate, difficult subject. In the end, Wyeth emerges, warts and all, as a complex individual, whose inner life was thoroughly entwined with every aspect of his art. --Peggy Moorman

From the Publisher:

"This extraordinary book restores N. C. Wyeth to his true stature in American art, and introduces a compelling new voice in American biography."
--Christopher Benfey

"A full-scale, many-voiced, deeply researched study"
--Adam Gopnik, The N.Y. Times Book Review

"An epic portrait...It sets the basis for considering the impact of the Wyeth art dynasty on America's collective notion of who we are...Michaelis has mined a mother lode of biographical gold."
--Ann Prichard, USA Today

"An exemplary study of the influence of ancestry upon imagination, and of imagination's power to make art out of family experience. "
--Edmund Morris

"Splendid"
--Edward J. Sozanski, Philadelphia Inquirer

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 231 x 152 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. His name summons up our earliest images of the beloved books we read as children. His illustrations for Scribner s Illustrated Classics (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Last of the Mohicans, The Yearling) are etched into the collective memory of generations of readers. He was hailed as the greatest American illustrator of his day. For forty-three years, starting in 1902, N.C. Wyeth painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and murals, as well as illustrations for a long shelf of world literature. Yet despite worldwide acclaim, he judged himself a failure, believing that illustration was of no importance.David Michaelis tells the story of Wyeth s family through four generations -- a saga that begins and ends with tragedy -- and brings to life the huge-spirited, deeply complicated man, and an America that was quickly vanishing. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060089269

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 231 x 152 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. His name summons up our earliest images of the beloved books we read as children. His illustrations for Scribner s Illustrated Classics (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Last of the Mohicans, The Yearling) are etched into the collective memory of generations of readers. He was hailed as the greatest American illustrator of his day. For forty-three years, starting in 1902, N.C. Wyeth painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and murals, as well as illustrations for a long shelf of world literature. Yet despite worldwide acclaim, he judged himself a failure, believing that illustration was of no importance.David Michaelis tells the story of Wyeth s family through four generations -- a saga that begins and ends with tragedy -- and brings to life the huge-spirited, deeply complicated man, and an America that was quickly vanishing. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060089269

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