"The Father Kept the Children Near Him"   Lot no. 4664

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By N.C. Wyeth 1882-1945

24 1/8" x 44"
Oil on Canvas
Signed Lower Right



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Considered one of America's greatest illustrators of the 20th century, N. C. Wyeth garnered considerable acclaim for his work with the publishing company Charles Scribner's Sons, particularly for his compelling illustrations of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island in 1911. The Father Kept the Children Near Him, but Always Young Olaf Looked with Tragic Eyes Toward the Slope where Padfoot Waited was executed in 1923, some 10 years after the artist's first commission for the publishing company's popular series of classical stories. The painting served as an illustration for Vingie Roe's The Grace of the Dim Strain, a short story published in Hearst's International in 1923.

With its restricted colored palette (almost all en grisaille) and panoramic format, the present work bestows N.C. Wyeth's talent for setting a dramatic atmosphere. The characters are all lined up as if they were on a stage. Although they all look in different directions, which adds to the dynamism of the scene, they remain unified by the mustard-yellow hue present on each of their attire. The apparent strong wind, paired with the ominous clouds rolling in the distance and the impressive shadow cast at the mountain's feet, imply something ominous is about to occur, which the viewer is dreading, yet impatiently waiting, to see.


Vingie E. Roe, "The Grace of the Dim Strain" in Hearst's International, Vol. XLIV, no. 1, July 1923, pp. 22-23 (illustrated).

Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N. C. Wyeth, The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals, Crown Publishers, New York, 1972, p. 260 (illustrated).

Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Scala, London, 2008, I.948, p. 452 (illustrated).

The Brandywine River Museum of Art’s N. C. Wyeth, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, NCW: 1423 (accessed online, illustrated).

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Newell Convers Wyeth had a huge zest for life. He carried his enthusiasm through a great number of paintings, more than 3000 illustrations, numerous vast murals, and many still-life and landscape paintings.

Howard Pyle was his teacher and idol. At first, Wyeth emulated Pyle's approach as nearly as possible, painting much of the same kind of subject matter - medieval life, pirates, Americana. To this he added his own dramatic picture concepts and rich, decorative color. Outstanding in this phase of his work were the more than twenty-five books he illustrated for Charles Scribner's Son's Classics series. The popularity of these books is such that, even after decades, many of them are still in print.

He came to resent the constraints of illustration, and after painting in oils for many years, Wyeth turned to the egg tempera medium and began to paint more for exhibitions. He also encouraged an interest in the arts in his children, giving them every opportunity for self-expression. His daughters, Henriette and Caroline, were both accomplished painters; Ann, a composer; and his son, Andrew, is famous as a painter. His grandson, Jamie, is also an excellent painter.

At the time of his tragic death in a railway crossing accident, N.C Wyeth was one of America's best loved illustrators. 

The October, 1965, issue of American Heritage contains an article by Henry C. Pitz about the career of Wyeth and his family, and a biography by David Michaelis was published in 1998.