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New exhibition chronicles 43 years of Andrew Wyeth's art at his restored mill

On a late-autumn day in 1958, Betsy Wyeth took a picnic to her husband, Andrew, who was painting his tempera, Raccoon, at Brinton's Mill on the Brandywine River in Chadds Ford. After lunch, as he resumed his painting, Mrs. Wyeth explored three buildings: the broken-down mill, nearly ruined granary, and neglected house. Among the weeds, she found a "for sale" sign. Enthralled by the setting and sensing the quality behind the dilapidation, the Wyeths immediately purchased the property.

Following extensive restoration of the historic buildings, the mill dating back to 1706, the Wyeths moved into the miller's house. The property, which includes acres of fields, two mill dams, as well as one of Pennsylvania's only working millwheels, is now collectively known as "The Mill." Beginning May 18, Andrew Wyeth: His Mill, a new exhibition at the Brandywine River Museum, features 42 works of art by Andrew Wyeth painted at The Mill.

The exhibition includes many works that have never before been on public view and seven watercolors completed by the artist this year. All of the works in the exhibition, with one exception from the collection of the Brandywine River Museum, are from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wyeth.

Spanning 43 years, the exhibition traces both the development of Andrew Wyeth's artistry and the restoration of The Mill. Two of the earliest works in the exhibition, completed in 1958, capture the buildings in deterioration. In one untitled work, missing roof shingles allow snow inside the spring house; in another, the old silo appears to split at the seam.

The more recent works in the exhibition depict The Mill in a different state. In Night Sleeper (1979), the restored mill building, bathed in moonlight, stands like a sentinel. Similarly, the interior of the mill house, as portrayed in Draft, Study for Sparks (2001), conjures an ominous presence while showing a restored hearth.

A selection of 15 black and white photographs of The Mill compliments the exhibition, providing pre- and post-restoration documentation. Andrew Wyeth: His Mill will be on exhibition through November, 2001 on the third floor of the Brandywine River Museum. Exhibitions in the Andrew Wyeth Gallery change twice a year, providing museum visitors with a constantly evolving look at the work of a major American painter.

The Brandywine River Museum is located on US Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Christmas Day. Admission is $5 for adults; $2.50 for seniors and students; free for children under six and members. For more information, call (610) 388-2700.

To read more about the Wyeth's Mill, see "Andrew Wyeth: His Mill; An Interview with Betsy James Wyeth"

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Brandywine River Museum, U.S. Route 1 and PA Route 100
P.O. Box 141, Chadds Ford, PA 19317
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© 2001 Brandywine Conservancy