James Browning “Jamie” Wyeth, a contemporary American realist painter, was born on July 6, 1946 in Wilmington, Delaware. Wyeth is the son of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, and grandson of N.C. Wyeth. He is the artistic heir to the Brandywine School Tradition, painters who worked in the rural Brandywine River area of Delaware and Pennsylvania, portraying its landscape, people and animals. As a child he demonstrated remarkable drawing skills. Wyeth attended public school for six years, and was then tutored by his family, concentrating on art.
When he was 12 years old, Jamie studied with his aunt, Carolyn Wyeth, a well-known artist in her own right. At the time she was a resident of the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio, which was filled with the art work and props of Jamie’s grandfather. Wyeth spent his mornings learning English and history at his home, and in the afternoon he joined other students at the studio where he studied the fundamentals of drawing and composition. Jamie developed an interest in working with oil paint, and looked to Carolyn and Howard Pyle for early inspiration. In working with watercolor Jamie looked to his father for inspiration.
By the age of 18, Wyeth’s paintings were in the permanent collections of the Wilmington Society of Art in Wilmington, Delaware, and in the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. At age 19, Jamie traveled to New York City to continue studying artistic resources. Here he learned the human anatomy by visiting a Harlem hospital morgue.
While serving in the Delaware Air National Guard from 1966 to 1971, Jamie Wyeth was commissioned to paint a portrait of Delaware’s governor, Charles L. Terry. Jamie Wyeth was persuaded by people close to the Kennedy family to undertake a posthumous portrait of President John F. Kennedy. He studied photographs and motion picture footage of the president, as well as making numerous pictures of his brothers, Robert and Edward Kennedy. Wyeth took part in Eyewitness to Space, a program designed to record details of the United States space probes. Jamie Wyeth also sketched incidents in the Senate and Supreme Court relating to Watergate developments for Harper’s Magazine. In 1969, Jamie Wyeth depicted his father in Portrait of Andrew Wyeth. He went on to paint President-elect Jimmy Carter, Andy Warhol, Rudolf Nureyev and Arnold Schwarzenegger during the 1970s. In 1984, Wyeth painted Night Vision to commemorate the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. His primary subjects in the 1970s and 1980s were the people, animals, and landscapes of Pennsylvania and of Monhegan Island in Maine.
Jamie Wyeth’s works are in the collections of the Brandywine River Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Terra Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery and the Fine Arts Museum of San Fransisco. He was appointed a council member of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1972, and in 1975 he became a member of the board of governors of the National Space Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Design and the American Watercolor Society. Jamie Wyeth holds honorary degrees from Elizabeth town College, Dickinson School of Law, and Pine Manor College.