April 29, 2020
It is with a heavy heart that we let you know that Mrs. Betsy Wyeth (nee James), widow of the celebrated American Artist, Andrew Wyeth, and mother of Nicholas and Jamie, passed away on Tuesday, April 21st, at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, at age 98.
Betsy met Andrew when she was 17 years old in the summer of 1939, and married him a week later. She became his muse, model, and toughest critique. Betsy was a force. In the words of their long-time friend and noted photographer, Peter Ralston of Rockport, Maine, “Andy Wyeth would have never become Andrew Wyeth without her”. Their son, Jamie, noted artist in his own right agreed with Peter’s sentiment saying “She was an amazing partner with my father, and she should have had her signature next to his on many of his paintings, including ‘Christina’s World’.”
In his book entitled, Andrew Wyeth, A Secret Life, Biographer Richard Meryman wrote about Betsy: “She kept a black book of every picture, carefully numbered. … In 1967 Betsy began to channel her considerable energies into curating and capitalizing on her husband’s work… she and her staff began in the late 1980s the long challenge of ordering his entire works chronology. From this will emerge a catalogue raisonné of Wyeth’s oeuvre which she expects will list nearly ten thousand works of art.”
In addition to her consummate work in directing the career of her husband, Betsy was one of the founders of the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine which is a non-profit organization that works to sustain Maine’s Island and coastal communities, fostering their ecological and cultural life.
The art world has lost a true matriarch, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Betsy’s sons Nicholas and Jamie.
Thumbnail image: Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York