NC Wyeth put the “Golden” in the “Golden Age of Illustration”. He is the atomic bomb of illustrators. It behooves me to give some background.
He learned much of his craft from the inimitable Howard Pyle (more on him soon), and illustrated 112 books in his career. Not everyone knows that he was a cowboy. But yes, he was.
NC Wyeth, In the Crystal Depths, 1906
NC Wyeth, The Murderer of Roy Campbell of Glenure from Kidnapped, 1913
NC Wyeth, On the Island of Earraid from Kidnapped, 1913
NC Wyeth, from The Black Arrow, 1916
NC Wyeth, from Robin Hood, 1917
At the time he was working, the camera (Boo! Hiss!) was just coming into play. His very realist style captures exactly the human quality that escapes a photograph. Photography will never catch on. I hate photography.
NC Wyeth, Captives from Last of the Mohicans, 1919
NC Wyeth, from The Scottish Chiefs, 1921
NC Wyeth, The Winged Horse from Legends of Charlemagne, 1924
NC Wyeth, Orlando and the Giant Ferragus from Legends of Charlemagne, 1924
NC Wyeth, Ogier and Morgana from Legends of Charlemagne, 1924
NC Wyeth, Cover for Legends of Charlemagne, 1924
Wyeth had an ability to wrap his scenes in fields of light. His work feels almost sculptural to me. Somehow, he knew where the line between “painting” and “illustration” was, and he knew not to mix the two.
As his career progressed, Wyeth’s focus shifted further from realism, into a more expressive use of color and texture.
NC Wyeth, Eumaeus the Swineherd from The Odyssey, 1929
NC Wyeth, Telemachus in the Chariot of Nestor from The Odyssey, 1929
NC Wyeth, The Beggars Fight from The Odyssey, 1929
NC Wyeth, The Sirens from The Odyssey, 1929
NC Wyeth: better than Photography since 1882.
NC Wyeth, endpapers from The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, 1931