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KATHRYN EARNHART | The Butlers N.C. Wyeth work joins Western collection



Published: Sun, January 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The year 2001 found many new works -- both historic and contemporary -- by some of America's best known artists entering the collection of The Butler Institute of American Art.

New works are garnered by the Butler from a variety of sources -- through museum purchases, grants, and most often through generous donations.

Now on view in the museum's collection galleries are works of a variety of styles -- from the ultra-realistic to the abstract -- for art lovers to see and enjoy.

One of the new acquisitions, donated to the museum by Dr. and Mrs. James D. Brodell and family, is now on view within the Butler's popular American Western collection.

"The Ambushed" by N.C. Wyeth, was painted in 1915, and used soon after as the cover for a popular publication of the day titled All Around Magazine. It is clear that it was designed to be used as a magazine cover as the artist left ample room for the publication's masthead and story title copy.

About the artist: Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) was the head of several generations of important American artists. The father of Andrew, Henriette and Carolyn Wyeth, the grandfather of Jamie Wyeth, the father-in-law of Peter Hurd -- N.C. Wyeth's art dynasty may soon enter a fourth generation.

As a child, N.C. Wyeth was constantly drawing. He began his formal art training intermittently, jumping from instructor to instructor until, at age 20, he was accepted into the Howard Pyle School (Wilmington, Del.) in 1902. He left his Massachusetts home, travelling to Delaware where he became enamored of the Brandywine Valley countryside that would ultimately become his home.

With Howard Pyle as a mentor, Wyeth's natural talent flourished, and in 1903, Wyeth's illustration of a bronco buster appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. (Frederick Remington's "The Bronco Buster" from the Butler collection is thought to have influenced this early Wyeth work.)

In 1904, Wyeth graduated from the Pyle School of Art, yet continued to paint in a studio at that school for several years. During this time, Wyeth made two trips to the American West (1904 and 1906), soaking up the cultural and natural environment.

Illustrator: By 1906, Wyeth became established as a Western adventure illustrator.

Early commissions were for paintings to accompany classics including "Arizona Nights" by Stewart Edward White and the original Hopalong Cassidy yarns by Clarence Mulford.

Wyeth became a regular contributor to Harpers, Scribner's and The Saturday Evening Post.

On April 16, 1906, N.C. Wyeth married Carolyn Bockius of Wilmington, Del. The couple moved to the countryside of Chadds Ford, Pa., where Wyeth attended Howard Pyle's summer school.

In 1911, N.C. Wyeth completed his first major commission for Scribner's, the illustrations for "Treasure Island."

By 1907, just four years after his first work was published, a Wyeth portfolio, "The Indian in his Solitude," was published. (American artist George De Forest Brush, whose work is included in the Butler's collection, greatly influenced the Solitude portfolio.)

The classic adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson were paired with Wyeth's talents resulting in classic editions which continue to be published today. Among them are "Treasure Island," "Kidnapped," and "The Black Arrow." (Wyeth illustrated many other American classics including books by Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Henry David Thoreau.)

In addition to books, Wyeth was creating illustrations for magazines, calendars, posters and murals. During this time, Wyeth also painted maps for the National Geographic Society.

Still lifes: Wyeth tired of working as an illustrator, and after completing "The Last of the Mohicans" the artist stopped illustrating professionally, and focused instead upon landscape and still life painting.

In the 1930's, wanting recognition as a fine artist, Wyeth, like many illustrators, chose to create murals to draw attention to his work. He painted scenes in the Missouri State Capitol building, murals for several banks and hotels, and great wall paintings for the National Geographic Society.

In 1939, he began a series of murals for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Unfortunately, the artist never completed the murals. In October 1945, Wyeth and his grandson were killed in a tragic car accident near his home in Chadds Ford. Wyeth's son Andrew and his son-in-law John McCoy completed N.C. Wyeth's last work.

N.C. Wyeth was a member of the National Academy, the Society of Illustrators, the Philadelphia Water Color Club, the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Chester County Art Association and the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts. In June of 1945, he received the honorary degree of master of arts from Bowdoin College.

Reception: Today from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Butler in Youngstown a public reception will held to honor painter Gary Bukovnik.

This Cleveland born and educated artist has lived in San Francisco for more than 20 years. His large-scale works utilize the mediums of watercolor, monotype and lithograph, and combine sensual vitality with powerful color to create floral images of depth and intensity.

And on Sunday, Jan. 20, another family day is planned at the Youngstown facility, with a high definition film "Jack and the Beanstalk" to be shown in the museum's Zona Auditorium. Call (330) 743-1711, ext. 114 for family day information.

XButler hours in Youngstown are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Butler hours at the Trumbull branch are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Butler Salem hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to all three facilities is free.




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