Friday, June 25, 2010

A Little More Wyeth

Many thanks to guest author Charlie Allen for sharing so many inspiring images by NC Wyeth with us this week! As a way of repaying the favour, I thought I'd dig through my collection and see what I could come up with in the way of Wyeth artwork. This first piece, from a 1924 issue of Ladies Home Journal, had been trimmed down by the original owner along both sides to fit into a folder in my morgue. I had to do a little 'reconstructive surgery' in Photoshop. Hopefully its not too obvious.


Next, also from my inherited morgue files, a 1927 cover for Country Gentleman by Wyeth. Earlier this week Charlie told us that "The Boys' King Arthur" was first published in 1908, and that "Treasure Island" was from 1911. So these two pieces provide an interesting example of the artist's development (if any) some ten-plus years later.


Finally, I was surprised to find this series of illustrations in a 1965 edition of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, sandwiched between a thoroughly modern group by Stan Galli and another, equally contemporary series by Arthur Shilstone ( both of which I plan to feature at a later date ).


Charlie explained that NC Wyeth died in 1954, so Reader's Digest was obviously confident that its audience would still have an appreciation for Wyeth's work some ten years after his death ( and several decades after the height of his popularity ).


In fact, the credits indicate that this series was originally presented in 1939.


Once again, they provide an opportunity to consider if Wyeth's work had changed in any way after approximately two decades had passed from the time of "a set of pictures, without doubt far better in quality than anything I ever did...", as Charlie told us the artist said of his "Treasure Island" series.


Unfortunately the reproduction quality on the cheap newsprint paper RDCB used is horrendous.


Even so, Wyeth's skill at devising strong, dramatic compositions can't be obscured by bad printing.


These last two pieces in the series are probably my favourites, as they really remind me very much of the kind of pictures Wyeth was creating in his earlier days. To quote Charlie once more, they are an "amazing group of illustrations... so old... and yet so new to today's viewers and readers! N.C. Wyeth was a true giant in our illustrative history."


And they really are new to me - and thanks to Charlie, I now see the artist in a new light. Wyeth's influence on many of the industry's 'modern masters' - from James Gurney to James Jean - is much more apparent to me now.

We would all do well to look more closely at the likes of NC Wyeth for the purpose of study and inspiration. Again, many thanks, Charlie!

* If you are new to Today's Inspiration and never read Charlie Allen's blog, this is your chance to get to know our guest author better. Drop by there and peruse Charlie's archives for some great stories and some truly amazing artwork!

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