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Delaware Artists - Lineage & the American Style

This is a series on artists who are associated with the state that they lived or worked in primarily. This post is Delaware.

From the establishment of the 17th and 18th centuries, artists carried the traditions of their peers in England and European countries into the New World (see Massachusetts Artists - Portraits and the Soul of America), each pursuing commissions from the prominent and the wealthy.

Enter the 19th century when Academy training developed a "true" American style. One such style was the Brandywine School. This artist colony in Wilmington, Delaware, was founded by artist Howard Pyle.

Howard Pyle

b. 1853 d. 1911

Pyle was known for his widely published adventure novels, magazines, and romances in the early 20th century, where his teachings would influence such notable illustrators as N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell.

Pyle advocated against studying in Europe, hoping his students would find fame and success through American education.

The Brandywine School buildings, which are still standing, are located a short walk from Brandywine Park, a stretch of the riverside park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Of the 500 students who applied to attend Pyle's school in its first year, only twelve were accepted.

An illustration from Howard Pyle Jr. Book of Pirates (1903)

The Brandywine School began a period of generations of artists in the same genre and often from the same family.

Here we have Howard Pyle Jr's work, an illustration from Book of Pirates.

The illustration was in high demand. The boom in illustrated publications provided work for a cadre of male and female illustrators well beyond the Pyle circle. Popular magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Collier’s, and the Saturday Evening Post reached hundreds of thousands of readers each month across the United States and beyond.

Although they were available far and wide, these books and magazines were aimed at the educated, white middle class in the United States, and the stories and illustrations in them reflect those values.

The Wyeth lineage

N.C. Wyeth

b. 1882 - 1945

In 1902, Newell Convers Wyeth joined the Howard Pyle School of Art in Wilmington, Delaware. He quickly became one of the period’s most popular magazine illustrators.

Westward Ho by N.C. Wyeth

Born in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1882, N.C. Wyeth began studying art at a young age. His mother encouraged him to enroll in several art schools, one of which was his acceptance in 1902 into Howard Pyle's School of Illustration in Wilmington, Delaware. After only one and a half years of Pyle's instruction, Wyeth's work began to appear in national magazines such as Collier's, Harpers, Scribner's, and others.

Wyeth went on to produce illustrations for renowned books such as the Scribner Illustration Classics, as well as advertisements and illustrations for the notable publications The Saturday Evening Post, Harper's, Scribner's, Collier's, Century, Outing, and Ladies' Home Journal.

The swashbuckling stories of adventure and romance were extremely popular with artists of the day. N.C. Wyeth's work continues to sell at high prices at Auction.

Henriette Wyeth

b. 1907 d. 1997

Portrait of Patricia Ryan Nixon (1978) by Henriette Wyeth, The White House, Washington, D.C

As the eldest daughter of N.C. Wyeth Henriette followed his advice to “paint the light and air around the subject—paint the mystery” through a series of fantasy paintings that drew her interest in theater and ballet.

Her portraits of society figures and family were exhibited and won awards at juried shows at the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts.

Andrew Wyeth

b. 1917 d. 2009

The youngest of N.C. Wyeth's five children, Andrew is recognized as one of the most influential American artists of the twentieth century. His career as a watercolorist was launched in 1937 when the artist’s first one-man show at Macbeth Gallery in New York drew critical acclaim.

Boy on a Bicycle with Feather by Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth worked primarily in tempera and watercolor, often using the drybrush technique. Wyeth maintained a style strongly oriented toward realism during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. His paintings suggest rural quietude, isolation, and a somber mood and are usually devoid of modern-day objects like automobiles.

In an Art News article in 1955, Andrew gave a rare description of this painting, "My wife had placed the clothes basket up against the house to dry in the sun. Somehow it was forgotten." A rare look into the artist who finds everyday objects fascinating. Andrew's work and friendship with Edward Hopper are strong in their stark and empty compositions.

Autumn Cornfield by Andrew Wyeth published in the Country Gentleman 1950

Unlike his father, Andrew was a reserved and subtle artist who restricted himself to a limited color palette. Although he frequently painted landscapes like the one above, he described himself as an abstractionist.

Jaime Wyeth

b. 1946

Portrait of JFK by Jaime Wyeth. JFK Hyannis Museum 1967

James Wyeth is the second child of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth. In the same way, his father had been brought up, and with much the same influence, he demonstrated the same remarkable skills in drawing as his father had done at comparable ages.

Early on, Wyeth became interested in oil painting, his grandfather's primary medium, although he is also adept in watercolor and tempera, his father's preferred media. He also admired his father's and grandfather's work and that of Howard Pyle, his grandfather's teacher, and American masters Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. As a boy, Jamie was exposed to art in many ways: the works of his talented family members, art books, attendance at exhibitions, meeting with collectors, and becoming acquainted with art historians.

Wyeth married Phyllis Mills, his muse and frequent model. Phyllis had known John Kennedy as a senator and president. Through his acquaintance with the Kennedy family, Wyeth was commissioned to do a posthumous unofficial Portrait of John F. Kennedy (1967), understanding that he would keep it if the surviving family did not accept it. The portrait has served some time at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Its most recent journey, however, is the request by President Biden to have this portrait spend some time at the White House. ➡️ On Loan from the MFA

So, just as in politics, the lineage is profound in the world of artists. The Adams, Tafts, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Bush families, and dynasties define U.S. presidents. This parallels the art world: The Holbeins, Rosettis, and here in the U.S, the Wyeths, the Lopers.

Edward Loper, Sr.

b. 1916 d. 2011

Edward Loper was an artist and teacher from Delaware, best known for his vibrant palette and juxtaposition of colors. He taught painting for almost 70 years.

1936, during the Great Depression, Loper started working in Delaware for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), rendering drawings of decorative art for the Index of American Design, a large archive of folk art images based in Washington, DC.

Loper started teaching painting in 1940. To escape some of the racism he experienced at home, he began traveling to Quebec City in Canada, where he would paint boldly-colored cityscapes.

St Pierre, Quebec oil on canvas 1980

Following his death, Delaware Today wrote of Loper, "Few local painters have achieved his level of recognition and influence, here and beyond, or have been as beloved by so many students."

His paintings are in the permanent collections of the University Museums at the University of Delaware's Paul R. Jones Collection of African-American Art, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Edward Loper, Jr.

b. 1934

Again, the lineage moves through the paint. Edward Loper, Jr. took the reins and jumped into painting with his father's bold, bright colors. Since the late 1960s, his vibrant figurative paintings have been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the greater Mid-Atlantic region.

Edward Jr. and Edward Sr. are prominent in the greater Wilmington area, and their art fills the walls at a host of museums, including:

Check Edward Loper Jr.'s website:

Pool Room at 11th and Walnut by Edward Loper Jr. 1971

Continuing to add to the family tradition, Jaime Loper, son of Edward Jr., is Gallery Manager for his dad.

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