Wyeth's father, N.C. Wyeth, was a well-known illustrator who had studied under Howard Pyle and who served as his son's only teacher. Andrew Wyeth, born July 12, 1917, Chadds Ford, Pa., U.S, presented his first one-man show in New York City in 1937. The subject matter of Wyeth's pictures comes almost entirely from two localities, the Brandywine Valley around Chadds Ford and the area near his summer home in Cushing, Maine. Wyeth uses a restricted palette mostly of earth colours but capable of hundreds of muted harmonies. His technique is precise and detailed, yet he lifts his paintings above photographic naturalism with an unreal, visionary quality.
His best known painting, "Christina's World" (1948; Museum of Modern Art, New York City), exemplifies his mastery of unusual angles of perspective and his use of light to pinpoint time. Other works include "The Trodden Weed" (1951), said to have appealed to the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, and "Nicholas" (1955), admired by U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Wyeth was the first painter to receive the Presidential Freedom Award (1963) conferred by U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy. In 1977 he became the first American artist since John Singer Sargent to be elected to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, and in the next year he became an honorary member of the Soviet Academy of the Arts. In 1980 he became the first living American artist to be elected to Britain's Royal Academy. His exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York City in 1967 established a new attendance record for that institution.
Wyeth's technical resources are remarkable, but more important are his insight into the accretions of living that have left their mark on the people he paints and his ability to convey a sense of generations of living in his paintings of old houses and their interiors.