Last Sunday, my daughter and I made a pilgrimage to Chad’s Ford, Pennsylvania to tour Andrew Wyeth’s home/studio and visit the Brandywine River Museum. I say pilgrimage as he is one of my all time favorite artists. To stand in the same place in which he lived and see his studio as it was when he was alive and working within it’s tattered walls was just an amazing, indescribable feeling.
The home was originally a school house back in the 1800’s and converted to a house by adding on rooms and eventually pluming. I grew up in a really old home in upstate New York. My mother, lover of all antiquities, traced it back through town records to the early 1800’s but never found the actual construction date of the old Federalist style home. The handwriting and toll of time made the ledgers illegible before that time. She instilled a great appreciation and fascination for antiquities within me. Wyeth never repaired, plastered or painted the walls of his studio. Apparently there was extensive work to be done before the museum could allow the public to enjoy the space. His paintings are so quiet and serene and yet he was a rather wild painter according to the guide. There was so much paint splattered on the ceiling that it sagged and had to be replaced. The walls did not indicate as much.
Andrew Wyeth painted in watercolors, oils and egg tempera paints. I guess I knew he used egg tempera, but seeing all the jars of minerals lined up on the windowsill and the pallets with large wells for mixing the egg and minerals into paint really magnified his incredible talent.
The Brandywine Museum is lovely, a beautiful barn like structure with modern edges set along side the Brandywine River. It was particularly hot and there were lots of people floating down the river on inner tubes, enjoying the lazy flow and cool water. There is a river walk with lovely animal sculptures and mill wheels and is a nice place to picnic, one of my favorite summer pastimes. The collection centers around the three famous Wyeth’s, N.C., Andrew and Jamie, (father, son and grandson), but also has visiting exhibits that rotate through the gallery space. I look forward to my next pilgrimage and hope to tour N.C’s studio and to float down the river.