The Brandywine celebrates the life of Phyllis Mills Wyeth
● By J. Chambless
Jamie Wyeth, 'Catching Pollen,' 2012, enamel, oil, and gesso on canvas, 60 x 40 in., The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection.
The Brandywine River Museum of Art is
hosting a memorial exhibition celebrating the life of Phyllis Mills
Wyeth (Nov. 13, 1940-Jan. 14, 2019) through May 5.
The show features a selection of portraits created by her husband, artist Jamie Wyeth. From the late 1960s onward, Phyllis Wyeth served as a muse to her spouse and these intimate works capture moments from her life across the decades of their marriage. “Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration” includes works in a variety of media by Jamie Wyeth that reflect Phyllis’ vibrant spirit and love of nature, horses, and her ever-present dogs.
The 28 paintings and drawings range from Jamie Wyeth’s first portrait of her (“Phyllis Mills,” 1967) – depicted outdoors and covered in fallen leaves – to more recent work, such as the lushly painted “Overslept” (2018). Jamie Wyeth captured the many facets of his wife’s life, including several works that attest to her accomplishments in carriage driving, such as “Into the Gorge” (1975) and “Connemara” (1984), and to her success as a Thoroughbred horse breeder and owner, most notably in “Winner’s Circle, Belmont Stakes” (2012), celebrating the win of her champion horse Union Rags at that race in 2012.
Paintings such as “Catching Pollen” (2012), “Stealing Holly from the Irénées” (2016), and “Southern Light” (1994) attest to Phyllis Wyeth’s love of nature and the distinctive landscapes surrounding her at home near Chadds Ford and in Maine. Also on view are a selection of intimate domestic scenes, painted as Christmas gifts from her husband, and depicting her beloved dogs.
A catalogue organized by the Brandywine will accompany the exhibition (late February 2019). “Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration” will travel to the Farnsworth Art Museum (Rockland, Maine) and the Greenville County Museum of Art (Greenville, S.C.) following its presentation at the Brandywine.
Phyllis Wyeth was a member of the Brandywine’s first board of trustees in the late 1960s. Throughout ensuing decades, she was a major supporter of the organization. In addition to her work with the Brandywine she was a noted philanthropist, conservationist, environmentalist, arts supporter, accomplished horsewoman and a staunch advocate for the rights of the disabled.
The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and older, $6 for students and children ages 6 and older; free for children 5 and younger and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art members. For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit brandywine.org/museum.