N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)First Farmer of the Land1945Oil on hardboard (Renaissance Panel), 30 x 25 in. (76.1 x 63.4 cm)Collection of Brandywine River MuseumMuseum purchase, 1993
First Farmer of the Land
Washington the Farmer
Oil on hardboard (Renaissance Panel)
Upper right on reverse of panel: PROPERTY OF MRS. N. C. WYETH, / LAST PICTURE PAINTED IN CHADDS FORD PA- / BY N. C. WYETH OCT. 19, 1945 / UNFINISHED- / WRITTEN BY [signed] Andrew Wyeth; adhered to reverse of panel, Renaissance Panel label dated 9/25/45, no. 1388; Written across label in blue crayon: Y 30 25/Feb 46 / Washington- The / Farmer; adhered to panel, two (Knoedler's) labels: No. 64937 / PICTURE and No. 54835 / PICTURE; adhered to frame, one (Knoedler's) label: No. 64937 / FRAME
Mrs. N. C. Wyeth; (Knoedler Galleries, New York, NY, 1956-1957, #54835 and S3319); Mr. William E. Weiss, Jr.; Mr. W. D. Weiss
Washington, DC, 1946, no. 17, as "Washington the Farmer"; New York, NY, 1957, no. 3, as "Washington the Farmer"; Harrisburg, PA, 1965, no. 8, as "Washington the Farmer"; Wheeling, WV, Oglebay Institute, "Weiss Family Collection of Western Art," Oct. 9 - Nov. 6, 1983
Color illustration p. 19 (measuring approximately 12 7/8 x 10 1/4 inches), Donald Culross Peattie, "First Farmer of the Land," Country Gentleman, vol. CXVI, no. 2 (Feb. 1946); article and illustration reprinted in "Winter" 1976 issue
Editor's note, Country Gentleman Magazine, vol. CXVI, no.2 (Feb. 1946), p. 18; Richard Layton, "Inventory of Paintings in the Wyeth Studio, 1950, " unpublished, Wyeth Family Archives, p. 61; Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N. C. Wyeth, The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1972), p. 257, illustration in color p. 139; American History Illustrated, vol. IX, no. 2 (May 1974), cover illustration in color as "Washington the Farmer"; David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), ps. 416-417; Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings (London: Scala, 2008), I.1322, p. 593, 594
In an undated letter to John Funk of Country Gentleman magazine, the artist noted the primary references he consulted while planning for this picture. Listed were "A History of the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration, vol. I, Literature Series (Washington, D. C.: U. S. George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1932), ps. 41-49, "Washington the Farmer," and p. 381, "Washington's own map of his farm drawn in 1793"; Paul Leland Haworth's "George Washington: Country Gentleman" (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1925); and "A History of Agriculture in Europe and America," (New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1925 or 1940) by Norman Scott Brien Gras. If Wyeth owned any of these books at the time, by 1996 they were no longer in the studio library in Chadds Ford.
The Wyeth Family Archives holds a photograph of N.C. Wyeth's studio taken shortly after the artist's death, showing this painting and the composition drawing for the image on easels (reproduced in Michaelis, p. 417). Also in the photograph is a bust of George Washington used as a model; the bust is still in the artist's studio (NCWS.95.1531).