Monday, January 18, 2016

The N. C. Wyeth Family Home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Home of N.C. Wyeth and His Family

The body of work that N.C. Wyeth left us shows that he was primarily an illustrator. No matter his status as a painter, one thing is certain: he and his wife Carolyn raised five creative children. Three became painters--one of them, Andrew, becoming a major artistic presence in the second half of the 20th century; one is a notable composer (Ann), and one became an inventor (Nathaniel).

So it is with great interest that I toured the family house of N. C. Wyeth as part of a visit to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford. The home is situated on a hill not far from the museum. Further up the hill is the beautiful large studio that N. C. Wyeth built for himself. The Wyeth spread is near Route 1 across from the Brandywine Battlefield, where George Washington was defeated by the British General William Howe on September 11, 1777. and where the Marquis de Lafayette was wounded.

N. C. Wyeth had attended art school in the summer in Chadds Ford, studying under the Delaware illustrator Howard Pyle. At that time, N. C. Wyeth reported to his mother the happy scene of Pyle, his wife, and five children all picnicking under a tree outside their summer home. It would seem that N. C. Wyeth set out to re-create this vision, and family life and parenting became a major preoccupation of his life. 

The N. C. Wyeth Family (left to right): Nathaniel, Henrietta, Ann sitting on her mother's lap, Carolyn, and N. C. Wyeth with Andrew. 

Wyeth bought the land and built the house with the money he earned from his illustrations for Treasure Island. It was no McMansion. The house standing there now includes a later addition, that turned the former kitchen into a dining room, and added a pantry and new kitchen. Even with the addition, the N. C. Wyeth home must have been a snug fit for seven active people. I figure the children must have been tossed outside to play and that N. C. Wyeth's studio--filled with costumes, paints, pastels, books, and all manner of fascinating things--must have been a spillover playroom. 

The living room was the biggest room in the house, and it did not take any stretch of the imagination to envision the entire family gathered in this room after dinner, reading, talking, playing music, drawing, doing homework, and sewing (Mrs. Wyeth). 

Living room in the N. C. Wyeth home with a bust of Beethoven in the window and a large bookcase. 

The Big Room by Andrew Wyeth, 1948--three years after his father's untimely death. The younger Wyeth has stripped the room of comfort and coziness  and instead focused on the light pouring into it. 

The living room from the other side. 

               The dining room is small, and benches supplied the seating on either side of the table. 

The pantry with some of the Wyeth crockery, of which more on Friday. 

Painting by N. C. Wyeth of his wife in the kitchen. The painting is on the middle shelf to the right in the pantry above. 

A child's bedroom. All the bedrooms were like this. A bed, perhaps a four-poster, with a white chenille bedspread, a chair, a bookcase full of books, a bureau. 

After the adult children left, Mrs. Carolyn Wyeth continued to live in the house until her death in  1973. Then daughter Carolyn lived there, painting and giving art lessons.  After she died in 1994, the house was given to the Brandywine River Museum of Art and is now open for tours. 


Woman of the House said...

I love both N.C. and Andrew Wyeths' art. Thank you for sharing this tour with us. I love to see inside the houses of intelligent, creative people~ it makes them seem more real and it gives a glimpse of their personality that we can't see otherwise.

Linda said...

The house is really lovely--a real home and very simple. Hope you can see it someday.