N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)My Mother1929Oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 40 1/4 in. (92.1 x 102.2 cm)Brandywine River MuseumBequest of Carolyn Wyeth, 1996
Oil on canvas
Lower left: N. C. WYETH (underlined); on reverse, label remnant nailed to stretcher through tacking edge: [missing]vania Academy of the Fine / [missing] and Twenty-Eighth / Oil and Sculpture 1933
portrait , Women , cooking
N. C. Wyeth; Mrs. N. C. Wyeth; Carolyn Wyeth
Wilmington, DE, 1930(1), no. 31; Baltimore, MD, 1931, no. 31; Philadelphia, PA, 1933, no. 426; Philadelphia, PA, 1935(2); West Chester, PA, 1935(2), no. 2; Wilmington, DE, 1946, no. 25; Washington, DC, 1946, no. 7; Chadds Ford, PA, 1982, no. 31, text p. 30, illus. in color p. 31; Chadds Ford, PA, 1995, no. 10, color illus. p. 33; Louisville, KY, 1998, no. 3, illus. in color, p. 4
The (Baltimore, MD) Sun, Jan. 16, 1931, illus. in b/w; "Wyeths Hold One-Family Exhibition," Philadelphia Record, March 31, 1935, 4: p. 6; C. H. Bonte, "That Gifted Wyeth Family Exhibiting at the Alliance," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 31, 1935, p. SO 9; "Walden Pond Revisited Deserves Close Study," (West Chester, PA) Daily Local News, Oct. 16, 1935, p. 7; Richard Layton, "Inventory of Paintings in the Wyeth Studio, 1950, " unpublished, Wyeth Family Archives, p. 93; Betsy James Wyeth, ed., The Wyeths The Letters of N. C. Wyeth, 1901-1945 (Boston: Gambit, 1971), p. 742, illus. in color f. p. 736; M. Stephen Doherty, "N. C. Wyeth Centennial Exhibition," American Artist Magazine, Aug. 1982, color illus. p. 63; Richard Meryman, Andrew Wyeth: First Impressions (New York: Abrams, 1991), illus. in b/w p. 15; Stephen May, "N. C. Wyeth's Midlife Masterpieces," Down East Magazine, vol. 42, no. 4 (Nov. 1995), illus. in color p. 62; David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth, A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), ps. 301-302, 315, illus. in color after p. 308; Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth, Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings (London: Scala, 2008), P.32, p. 813; Jason Williams, "Competing Visions: The Alternate Wests of Elinor Pruitt Stewart and N. C. Wyeth," pub. in Western American Literature, vol. 44, no. 4 (Winter 2010), ps. 378-379;
Henriette Zirngiebel Wyeth (1857-1925) was an extraordinarily influential presence in N. C. Wyeth's life. It was she who encouraged her son's earliest artistic endeavors; he confided to her a career's worth of aspirations and frustrations in hundreds of letters written from 1902 to 1925. In this portrait painted from memory after her death, Wyeth relied on the setting and familiar objects to express his mother's importance in his life. The scene is the kitchen of Wyeth's boyhood home in Needham, Massachusetts, and the figure outside the window is Wyeth's maternal grandfather, walking the path to his house next door. Like other personal paintings from the 1920s, the portrait shows the modernist style that Wyeth experimented with between 1925 and 1935.
A picture in the Baltimore newspaper (1931, above) shows the painting framed in a heavy and ornate gold frame, inventoried on a frame list that hung on the artist's studio wall as "My Mother (Gold) 36 x 40". According to Andrew Wyeth, the present frame may have been put on the painting for the memorial exhibition at the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts in 1946.
In 1934, Wyeth painted a still life of a chair and table, depicting the portrait of his mother in the upper right corner of the painting (see NCW 1466).