N.C. Wyeth, (American, 1882–1945) “Fisherman’s Family,” prior to 1935, Oil on canvas, 60 x 71.75 inches
N.C. Wyeth, (American, 1882–1945) “Fisherman’s Family,” prior to 1935, Oil on canvas, 60 x 71.75 inches
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The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland has received a bequest of 27 paintings from the estate of Betsy Wyeth. The gift includes works by three generations of Wyeth painters, N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, and will be on view, beginning Saturday, May 15, as part of a new exhibition entitled “Betsy’s Gift: The Works of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth.” Betsy Wyeth died in the spring of 2020 at the age of 98.

Farnsworth Director Christopher Brownawell called the bequest, which he said included several other gifts in additon to the paintings, “a transformational moment in our history” and anticipated the works would “elevat[e] the Farnsworth to one of the great regional museums in the country.”

The Farnsworth’s relationship with Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, who summered in Cushing, dates to 1944, four years before the museum opened. The museum bought six works from a still relatively unknown Andrew Wyeth as its collection was still taking shape. The family came to feature prominently in the Farnsworth’s collection. 

“Betsy’s ongoing support of the Farnsworth was unwavering throughout her life, and we owe her an immense debt of gratitude,” said Gerry Isom, president of the Farnsworth’s board of directors.

Among the 27 works are two well-known Andrew Wyeth watercolors featuring the Olson House — “Room after Room” and “Geraniums,” the N.C. Wyeth oil painting “Fisherman’s Family,” and Jamie Wyeth’s famed Monhegan oil painting “Islander.” 

“Betsy’s Gift: The Works of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth” will be on view in the Farnsworth’s Hadlock Gallery through March 27, 2022. An accompanying exhibition, “Betsy Wyeth: Partner and Muse,” will feature Andrew Wyeth’s portraits of his wife Betsy, who appeared in his paintings from the summer they met in 1939 until the summer before the artist’s death in 2009. The show will include “Maga’s Daughter,” an iconic tempera that appeared on the cover of The Free Press last year but has not previously been exhibited in Maine, along with several watercolors and drawings of Betsy that have not been shown publicly before.

Other upcoming exhibitions at the Farnsworth include “Women of Vision,” opening on April 17, celebrating 13 women who have made lasting contributions to Maine’s culture; “Robert Indiana: The Hartley Elegies,” opening on May 25 and featuring 10 silkscreen prints by the late pop artist, who lived on Vinalhaven before his death in 2018; and “George Tice/Andrew Wyeth: Parallel Visions,” opening June 12, pairing works by the photographer and the painter.