Re-Framing N.C. Wyeth

Here’s a feather in our cap—or our cowboy hat. We had the honor this month of getting to make a frame for a painting by N.C. Wyeth (American, 1882-1945). The oil on canvas, titled “Ahead Rode a Keen-Eyed Man,” 11″ x 36″, was made in 1908 for The Saturday Evening Post as a headpiece illustration for a fictional story. Trevor Davis made the 2-1/2″ wide quartersawn white oak frame (Light Medieval Oak stain). It’s a Compound Aurora. The cap molding is carved with simple geometric arrow patterns at the corners and the center of the top and bottom. The chamfered flat has mortise and tenon joints with diagonal square plugs over the dowels pinning the joints. The 5/16″ wide chamfered liner has a carved corner pattern of Trevor’s design, and is leafed with pale gold.

Framed NC Wyeth painting

Here’s how it was framed before. But don’t get me started.

Framed NC Wyeth painting

N.C. Wyeth

Born and raised in Massachusetts, N.C. Wyeth moved to Wilmington, Delaware and the Brandywine Valley to study with the most admired illustrator of the time, Howard Pyle. On his blog, Lines and Color, Charley Parker writes that

While Pyle brought a new level of dynamics and drama to previously staid and theatrical approaches to illustration, Wyeth took his teacher’s mastery of drama and cranked it up to 11, placing the viewer on the edge of impending action or danger.

Framed NC Wyeth paintingThat dramatic feeling is certainly present in this piece. And, along with a genius for color, figure, landscape and still life, it would lead to the creation of a powerful body of work for Wyeth, not only for magazines but for the publisher Charles Scribner and Sons’s editions of classics like Robin Hood, The Boy’s King Arthur, Kidnapped, and, perhaps most famously, Treasure Island.


NC Wyeth painting for Robinson CrusoeWhile Wyeth’s artistic achievements are more than enough to secure his place in the pantheon of American illustrators, his role as the head of one of America’s great artistic families (father of Andrew Wyeth and grandfather of Jamie Wyeth, and that’s just for starters) is also notable.

Enjoy learning more about N.C. Wyeth with a visit to the webpage for the Brandywine River Museum of Art‘s recent exhibition “N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives.” I like Dianne L. Durante’s personal write-up of that show. She shares her own pictures of the paintings including their frames—like this 1920 painting for Robinson Crusoe, at right, in what appears to be its original dark quartersawn white oak frame.


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