Newell Convers Wyeth American, 1882-1945


“One must live in the picture. Don’t just paint the sleeve—become the arm!”

–N.C. Wyeth

Newell Convers Wyeth was born in 1882 in Needham, Massachusetts. His father, Andrew Newell Wyeth, descended from a long line of Wyeths in America, beginning with Nicholas Wyeth, who arrived from England and settled in the Boston area in the mid-seventeenth century. Nicholas bought a home in Cambridge, and his progeny were the stuff of American history and Massachusetts mythology: Jonas Wyeth disguised himself as a Native American to take part in the Boston Tea Party; Ebenezer Wyeth fought the British at Bunker Hill; John Wyeth assumed the office of postmaster of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for his support of George Washington, and Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth sought adventure on the Oregon trail. On his mother’s side, Wyeth knew the family history back to Switzerland. The Zirngiebels arrived in Cambridge in 1856, and with the marriage of Andrew Newell Wyeth and “Hattie” Henriette on December 21, 1881, their assimilation into America was complete. Thus was secured for Newell Conyers Wyeth that most American of heritages: one side recently immigrated from the old country, the other with history in the New World. The family history provided all the source material for imagination that an artist, could ever hope for: western explorers; Europeans on the high seas; conspirators and rebels, founding fathers and postmen: these characters would people the dreams and the paintings of Wyeth for the rest of his life.

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