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Wyeth Wartime Work Joins Collection


The Brandywine River Museum of Art recently welcomed the generous gift of an N.C. Wyeth painting to its renowned collection.

Public Health and Morale, donated by Bristol-Myers Squibb, depicts an idealized American family against a backdrop of busy wartime factories, with a squadron of military airplanes overhead.

"Public Health and Morale" by N.C. Wyeth.

“Public Health and Morale” by N.C. Wyeth.

Public Health and Morale powerfully evokes the patriotic spirit of America during World War II,” says Museum Director Thomas Padon. “The painting also provides a fascinating glimpse into the ideal of both the American family and industrial prowess at that time.

The circa-1943 painting is one of two commissioned by Bristol-Myers Sqibb for use as advertising window displays and in internal publications. The other piece, The American Mother (1941), was donated to the Brandywine River Museum of Art by the company in 1977.

Newell Convers (N.C.) Wyeth (1882-1945) was one of 20th-century America’s foremost illustrators. Throughout his career, Wyeth was sought for book and magazine commissions, but he also strove for recognition in other spheres of art. In every area, he proved himself to be an expert draughtsman and brilliant colorist. He explored various styles and mastered techniques, which range from the broadly brushed to the near photographic. His private works include still lifes, portraits, and landscapes of Chadds Ford and his summer home in Clyde, Maine. Wyeth also enjoyed a reputation as a muralist and painted advertising images.

"The American Mother" by N.C. Wyeth.

“The American Mother” by N.C. Wyeth.

Wyeth set down roots and raised his family in Chadds Ford, Pa., starting an American painting dynasty that includes his daughters Henriette (1907-1997) and Carolyn (1909-1994), son Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), and Andrew’s son Jamie Wyeth (born 1946).

Now that Public Health and Morale is part of the museum’s collection, “those who are inspired by the work of N.C. Wyeth, his son Andrew, and grandson Jamie, can enjoy this work for years to come,” said John Elicker, senior vice president, Public Affairs and Investor Relations, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults; $10 for seniors ages 65 and over; $6 for students and children ages 6-12; free for children ages five and under, Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art members, and active military personnel.

For more information, including tour schedules, please call 610-388-2700 or visit www.brandywine.org.