The Brandywine River Museum collects and preserves American art with primary emphasis on the art of the Brandywine region, American illustration and still life painting.
Since 1971, when it was founded, the museum's collections have grown to more than 3,000 works of art by hundreds of artists and thousands of other objects in the N.C. Wyeth House & Studio. Permission to reproduce works in the museum's collections must be obtained through the Rights and Reproductions Office. Click here for more information.
The Valley of the Brandywine
William T. Richards
Landscape & Genre Painting
During much of the 19th century, when landscape painting was a dominant form of visual expression, many artists ventured to the Brandywine Valley. By 1819, Bass Otis had published the nation's first lithograph--a Chester County scene entitled House and Trees at Waterside--now in the Brandywine River Museum's collection. Within decades, well-known members of the Hudson River School, including Thomas Doughty and Edward Moran, had documented the distinctive beauty of the region
and are now represented by works in the Museum's collection. Some, like William T. Richards, chose to remain in the area and created powerful works here, such as the museum's Valley of the Brandywine, Chester County (September), painted by Richards about 1886. Landscape painting has continued in the region throughout the 20th century and is represented in the museum by painters as diverse as George Cope, Clifford Ashley, Peter Hurd and George Weymouth.
The field of American genre painting in the 19th and 20th centuries is exemplified here with important interior scenes by Horace Pippin and Jefferson David Chalfant, both of whom lived and worked in this valley. Such works as Pippin's Saying Prayers, along with many others frequently on view, are prime examples of the vital artistic heritage of the Brandywine region.
A Man's Table Reversed
William M. Harnett
Still Life and Portraits
Still life painting also has strong roots in the Brandywine region, particularly trompe l'oeil or "fool the eye" painting that was popular in the late 19th century. The museum's collection includes examples by such painters as William Michael Harnett, the acknowledged leader in this type of painting, John F. Peto, George Cope, John Haberle and Alexander Pope. Many of these works were created for gentleman's clubs, pubs and other "masculine" interiors, hence the decidedly male subject matter: often hunting and fishing equipment, dead game, mugs and pipes. The museum's
Miss Mary du Pont
Jefferson David Chalfant
collection includes works by other important American still life painters,including Raphaelle Peale, John F. Francis, Levi Wells Prentice, J. Alden Weir and Walter Murch, among many.
The museum’s portrait collection include fine examples by regional artists from the 18th through the late 20th centuries. Early formal portraits by Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, and Thomas Sully, depict the Hare family of Philadelphia. The subjects are elegantly dressed and posed in refined settings that convey their social status. Late 19th-century and 20th-century portraits in the collection by Mary Cassatt, Jefferson David Chalfant, Thomas Smedley, Barry Moser, and members of the Wyeth family emphasize informal settings and attire.
A major portion of the region's heritage is American illustration. The first illustrator of note was the famous F.O.C. Darley, who left New York in 1859 to settle just north of Wilmington, Delaware. A few decades later, Howard Pyle, who is often called "the Father of American Illustration," also began to work in the Brandywine Valley. Pyle established an extraordinarily influential art school in Wilmington and Chadds Ford, where he trained dozens of artists, including major illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Jessie Willcox Smith and Frank Schoonover. Pyle and many of his students are represented in the Brandywine River Museum.
American illustration is a major component of the museum's collection. Among the hundreds of illustrators represented are early 20th- century giants such as Edwin Austin Abbey, Winslow Homer, Howard Chandler Christy, Charles Dana Gibson, Rose O'Neill, Maxfield Parrish and Rockwell Kent; late 20th-century cartoonists, such as Al Hirschfeld, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Charles
Schulz; and other illustrators such as Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Charles Santore and Nancy Eckholm Burkert. These are only some of the diverse talents revealed in an illustration collection that also includes Reginald Marsh, George Bellows and Frederic Remington.
Siege of the Roundhouse, Kidnapped
Three Generations of Wyeth Art
N.C. Wyeth was profoundly affected by the Brandywine Valley when he arrived here to study with Howard Pyle in 1902. He married, settled in Chadds Ford, raised a family, and within a decade established himself among America's foremost illustrators with work featured in magazines and newspapers and in numerous very popular books. Several of his best-known illustrations, including ten works from Treasure Island along with works from Kidnapped, The Black Arrow, The Boy's King Arthur, The Last of the Mohicans and other Scribners' classics, are frequently on view at the museum. Wyeth is also represented here by fine still life and landscape paintings and portraits.
N.C. Wyeth's five children inherited much talent. Daughters Henriette Wyeth Hurd and Carolyn Wyeth gained recognition as painters and are well represented in the museum's collection. Andrew Wyeth, the youngest son of N.C., has become one of the most influential and well-known painters in the history of American art. Andrew Wyeth's images in egg tempera and watercolor are often thought to be exact representations of scenes or people. But, in fact, Wyeth restructures elements of visible reality, arranging people and objects as he pleases in order to create his private visions of places and people in Pennsylvania and Maine. Many works by Andrew Wyeth are exhibited at the museum; often on view are such well-known paintings as Evening at Kuerner's, Night Sleeper, Roasted Chestnuts, Siri, Trodden Weed and Snow Hill.
© Andrew Wyeth
The third generation of the Wyeth family includes Andrew Wyeth's younger son, painter James Wyeth. By his early 20s, James Wyeth had earned national attention with a posthumous portrait of John F. Kennedy and other work. Later, he produced striking portraits of Rudolf Nureyev and Andy Warhol, studies for which are in the museum's collection. Since then, Wyeth has established a distinctive style, characterized by strong images and sharp contrasts in his landscapes and portraits. He is known for his monumental animal portraits, including Portait of Pig and Raven in the museum's collection, which represents various stages in his changing style.
Portrait of Pig
Brandywine River Museum, U.S. Route 1, P.O. Box 141
Chadds Ford, PA 19317 Phone: 610-388-2700
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