Artist Andrew Wyeth dies at age 91

Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:12pm EST
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Renowned American artist Andrew Wyeth, famous for landscapes of his native Pennsylvania and Maine, died on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the Brandywine River Museum near his home.

Wyeth, who was 91, died in his sleep early in the morning, surrounded by his family and friends, after a brief illness, the museum said in a statement.

He is best known for "Christina's World" (1948), in which a disabled woman appears to be striving to cross a largely empty landscape. It was painted, like many of his other works, in egg tempera, a technique that he said forced him to slow down the execution of a painting.

Wyeth, one of the best-known American painters, drew international recognition during his long career. He was the first American artist since John Singer Sargent to be inducted into the French Academy of Fine Arts, and the first living American artist to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the statement said.

In the United States, he was the first artist to win the Presidential Freedom Award, presented by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. A 2006 exhibition of his works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art drew 177,000 visitors, the highest-ever attendance at the museum for a living artist.

"The world has lost one of the greatest artists of all time," said George Weymouth, chairman of the Brandywine museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, which houses many of the Wyeth family's paintings.

Wyeth was part of a large creative family that included his father, the painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth, and his son Jamie Wyeth. An exhibition containing the works of the three generations of painters went on tour internationally in 1987.

He began training in his father's studio at the age of 15, and drew inspiration from the landscape around Chadds Ford, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he was born in 1917.   Continued...

<p>President George W. Bush (L) with painter Andrew Wyeth (R) before Wyeth receives the 2007 National Medal of Arts in the East Room of the White House in Washington, November 15, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>