Winter 1946 by Andrew Wyeth. ©2017 Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society

The Exhibit

Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect was organized by Seattle Art Museum with the Brandywine River Museum of Art for the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth, in 1917. It includes never-before-exhibited drawings, rough drafts, studies, and paintings.

The Paint

Wyeth made Winter 1946 with tempera on a hardboard panel. Unlike oil paint, tempera has to be made daily from egg yolk and pigment, and it dries quickly.

The Location

This is a real place depicted above—Kuerner's Hill outside Chadds Ford, in rural Pennsylvania, where the artist spent part of his childhood.

The Father

Wyeth's father, N.C. Wyeth, was an illustrator and Andrew's first teacher. He tried to dissuade his son from using tempera.

The Death

N.C. Wyeth (right) was killed when a freight train crashed into his car at a railroad crossing. A favored grandson (Andrew's nephew) was also in the car and died too. A local boy discovered the mangled bodies and protected them from dogs until they could be cut loose from the wreckage.

The Boy

According to some accounts, the boy in this painting is Allan Lynch, a childhood friend of the artist who discovered the bodies (and who figures in several other Wyeth paintings). But Wyeth also claimed the boy in this painting "was me, at a loss—that hand drifting in the air was my free soul, groping."

The Hill

The railroad crossing where the fatal wreck took place is on the other side of that hill. "The landscape is synonymous with his father's death," a museum curator noted. Wyeth himself once explained that he had been "sick" that he'd never painted his father when he was alive, and that this "hill finally became a portrait of him."

The Coincidence

October 19, 1932, was the date Wyeth first entered his father's studio as an apprentice. October 19, 1937, was the date of Wyeth's first art show in New York. October 19, 1945, was the date that N.C. Wyeth got into the fatal wreck. And October 19 was the date SAM's exhibit opened; it closes January 15. recommended