Saturday, May 15, 2010

N.C. Wyeth's Studio

Yesterday we had the chance to visit N.C. Wyeth's studio. He built his home and studio in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania using the proceeds from the success of his illustrations for Treasure Island, which was published in 1911.

The studio has a large north-facing Palladian window, as well as an even larger greenhouse window on a wing of the studio added later to accommodate his mural commissions.

This historic photo shows the studio in Wyeth's time. It was kept intact fortunately, so all the props, costumes, and references are still there.

There are ship models, death masks of Lincoln and Beethoven (his favorite composer), a gun collection, horse ecorches, an authentic birchbark canoe, a native American drum, a skull with a bowler hat, saddles, and a lantern slide projector, which he used for projecting up his preliminary drawings.

His large handheld palette, kept intact from the day from the day he died, seemed to contain (as near as I could tell from looking at it): white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow deep, yellow ochre, raw sienna, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, Venetian red, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, viridian green, and black.

This drawing by a teenage Andrew Wyeth shows N.C. at work, with the light conditioned by drapes dangled from the window.

The studio wasn't electrified until 1923, so until then he could only work by daylight. Once they brought in power, Wyeth installed a state-of-the-art artificial lighting system of twelve 200-watt light bulbs, most of which are still working.

That was before the light bulb manufacturers came up with their most lucrative innovation: planned obsolescence.

The studio can be visited in spring, summer, and fall by guided tour from the Brandywine River Museum in Chadd's Ford, PA. Information and more photos.
Thanks, Jason, Jane, and Gail

12 comments:

Erik Bongers said...

The love for photographic realism is already clearly visible in this early A.W. drawing. The addition of that undefinable 'magical tension' has still to develop.

Andrew Wales said...

My kids and I toured the Brandywine Museum and N.C.'s home and studio a few years ago. It is a wonderful experience. I highly recommend it.

Stephen Southerland said...

I visited the studio last year. His prop room was awesome - I immediately recognized the skillet used in his Treasure Island painting of Jim and Silver in the galley.

=shane white= said...

We went there as part of my bachelor party/trip (which started as a trip to see the opening of the Bob Peak show at the SoI). We had planned going back the following morning but apparently the incessant rains flooded the bridge area and made it impossible to get to the museum.

Overall an excellent time.

=s=

Will Kelly said...

I would love to visit Wyeth's studio sometime... he is one of the best illustrators ever. I wonder if his great treatment of window light (which you mentioned last post) in his indoor scenes was due to the fact he spent so much time painting in that light environment before it was electrified. How amazing...

jeff said...

NC Wyeth was one of the greats.
His studio is amazing and I understand that he also had life size articulated manikins.

How old was Andrew when he drew the studio? I think he might have been 12 or around that age.

Has anyone read anything about NC's life and his relationship with his family? It's very strange indeed.

Monge said...

Hey James, How do you do to be everywhere at each time ^^?? How longer you journey is during HAHA ??
You are Incredible, sure a bit of superman !!!

The Best
J-Baptiste Monge

Daniel.Z said...

And here I was, thinking all along that light bulbs are so short lived because that's they way they are...

Andrew Wales said...

lol @ Shane. I also went to an art museum with friends as a bachelor party!

Mark vanderVinne said...

I was recently visiting a friend in DC and wanted to make the trip up to Chadd's Ford. Unfortunately, we just couldn't fit it in. Now I just wish I did so all the more. I'm so jealous.

Mark vanderVinne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drazen said...

I did a road trip with a buddy a few years back to here and and Rockwell's place and and a few of the illustration museums. Inspiring and amazing places.

Drazen