Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for N.C. Wyeth. One of America's greatest illustrators

N.C. Wyeth , April 1932.  Dover  Press
N.C. Wyeth is the artist who created this poster.  Wyeth was a painter/illustrator who was responsible for some unforgettable illustrations especially for children's books. Treasure Island, his masterpiece, made him famous.  He was torn, however, between fine art and illustrations for commercial clients.  This poster would be an example, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  There were others; The Saturday Evening Post, Lucky Strike, Cream of Wheat, Banks, Hotels, Posters for America's war effort, and more. "Painting and illustration cannot be mixed -- one cannot merge from one to another," he said.  Commercial art made him wealthy and he found it difficult to break away from painting illustrations to painting for his own pleasure and creativity.

All his children were talented artists, Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth, Ann Wyeth McCoy, and Nathaniel Wyeth.  Jamie Wyeth, a grandson is also famous. 

Even though, he felt constrained by his commercial art, you cannot see the illustrations for Treasure Island and not be swept away by the story and how the paintings made you feel as if you were there with all the characters.
Blind Pew from Chapter 5, Treasure Island

Sadly, he and his grandson were killed at a railway crossing near Chadds Ford, 
Pennsyvania, in 1945. He was 63.

There are books about the Wyeths on Amazon, more information on Wikipedia.


  1. kind of ironic that a man who created a poster for the railroad that brought about his untimely demise...dont think i ever knew that
    but i recognize his treasure island illustrations, they were in the copy that my aunt read to me when i was a kid. you're right they definitely sweep you out to sea :)

  2. Rah, you are amazing, I did not make the connection. But if you have time, check out his art on Google -- he was an amazing artist and person, his whole family as well.

  3. I love Wyeth's work, absolutely amazing...

  4. What a tragic and senseless end but he has left behind a great legacy. The Treasure Island illustrations are definitely iconic.

  5. Thank you, Cathrina, Donna, and Nick. I envy those artistic genes. There was so much more on the internet about N.C., but I knew it would make the post too long.

  6. Thank you, Evalina. Being an artist yourself, you are familiar with his art.