Friday, 10 January 2014
Michael Palin's BBC4 programme about Andrew Wyeth inevitably touched on his father, N C Wyeth. Michael Palin was keen to show his eccentricities and influence on the young Andrew, but he did not seem to be very interested in his work. He pointed out that he was a very successful illustrator, but he did not point out that he was also a brilliant one.
Father and son are very different as artists and it may be that Palin just did not like N C Wyeth's work. But it is also true that he is not as well known in the UK as he is in the US. I've always loved his work. Very few illustrators get into the business of modelling to the degree that N C Wyeth did - line and wash still dominates (even if the 'wash' may now be done on Photoshop). N C's illustrations are all about modelling. They have a depth and weight to them that sets them apart from much of the European illustration output of that era, full of big, muscular, square-jawed men, solid as oak trees.
N C Wyeth's illustrations to R L Stevenson's KIDNAPPED and TREASURE ISLAND are fantastic - although the locations in both seem to look remarkably like Maine.