Henriette Wyeth

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Henriette Wyeth
Born (1907-10-22)October 22, 1907
Died April 3, 1997(1997-04-03)
Nationality American
Education N.C. Wyeth
Alma mater Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Known for Painting
Spouse(s) Peter Hurd
Portrait of Patricia Ryan Nixon (1978) by Henriette Wyeth, The White House, Washington, D.C.[1]
Portrait of Peter Wyeth Hurd (1937) by Henriette Wyeth, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas.

Henriette Wyeth Hurd (October 22, 1907 – April 3, 1997) was an American artist noted for her portraits and still life paintings.

Life and career[edit]

She was born in Wilmington, Delaware, into an artistic family. She was the eldest of the five children of illustrator N.C. Wyeth and his wife Carolyn Bockius.[2] Her siblings Carolyn Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth also became artists, with Andrew Wyeth becoming the most consistently well-known artist of this creeative family.[3] Henriette contracted polio at age 3, which altered her health and use of her right hand. As a result, she learned to draw with her left hand and paint with her right.[4] She grew up on the family farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and attended local Quaker schools.[5] She began studying with her father at age 11. A child prodigy,[6] at age 13 she was enrolled in the Normal Arts School in Boston, Massachusetts. She subsequently studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2] By age 16, she was well known as a portraitist.[6]

Wyeth met her husband, artist Peter Hurd, while he was working as an assistant to her father. The couple married in 1929, and had three children: Peter Jr., Carolyn and Michael Hurd. In 1938, they established the Sentinel Ranch in San Patricio, in southern New Mexico near Roswell, New Mexico.[5] Wyeth's father was not happy about the move because, as she stated in a 1989 interview, “He felt I should not let marriage interfere with my painting.” Henriette Wyeth, however, did continue to paint for the rest of her life, until health problems prevented her from doing so.[6]

Wyeth’s work spanned portraiture of adults and children, still lifes, and floral landscapes. In her work, she "often included objects that related to the subject's interest or personality..."[7] She eventually stopped painting children because, as she said, “today's children--they are so deadpan."[6] She felt that modern society had “blunted” children. This cynicism extended to television and feminism, both of which she criticized.[6]

Her most widely known work is the official White House portrait of First Lady Pat Nixon.[8] She exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy (1927, 1936–44), where she was awarded the 1937 Mary Smith Prize for a portrait of her son Peter.[9] She received other awards for her work, including the Governor's Award in Santa Fe, New Mexico[2] and a Living Legacy Award from the Women’s International Center.[10] Much of her work is located at The Roswell Museum and Art Center, in Roswell, New Mexico.[8] and at the Hurd La Rinconada Gallery in San Patricio, NM. Her paintings can also be found in the permanent collections of the Brandywine River Museum, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the National Portrait Gallery, The New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and the Texas Tech University Fine Art Museum.[11]

Her papers, and those of her husband (who died in 1984), are in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.

Henriette died in her Roswell, New Mexico home-studio from complications from pneumonia in April 1997.[6] According to her biography on the Wyeth Hurd Gallery website, she was “considered by many art scholars to be one of the great women painters of the 20th century.”[12]

One of her well known quotes sums up her philosophy well: "I don't know what is important and what is unimportant, so I call it all immensely important."[10]


Wyeth's work has been exhibited at such notable institution as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, The Art Institute of Chicago and New Mexico’s Roswell Museum of Art.[6]

Other exhibitions have included:


  • The Wyeth Family, Philadelphia, PA[13]


  • Exhibition of Paintings by Peter Hurd & Henriette Wyeth, The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH[14]


  • The Wyeths' Wyeths, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME
  • The Wyeth Family: Three Generations of American Art, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London[15]



Future Exhibition



  1. ^ White House Historical Association (White House Collection). "Title: Oil Portrait of Patricia Ryan Nixon". Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2007-02-19. 
  2. ^ a b c Heller, Nancy G.; Heller, Jules (1995). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Garland, 1995. p. 269. ISBN 9780824060497. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Fuente, Peter de La. "Family Bios". www.wyethhurd.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  4. ^ "Henriette Wyeth, 89, A Portrait Painter In a Family of Artists". New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Morgan, A. L. (2007). The Oxford dictionary of American art and artists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-19-512878-9. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Staff, From Times; Reports, Wire (1997-04-06). "Henriette Wyeth, 89; Portrait Subjects Included Pat Nixon". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  7. ^ Trenton, Patricia (1995). Independent Spirits, Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945. Berkeley-Los Angeles-London: Autry Museum of Western Heritage in association with the University of California Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-520-20202-3. 
  8. ^ a b LeMay, John; Burnett, Roger (2012). Legendary Locals of Roswell, New Mexico. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Pub. p. 61. ISBN 9781467100144. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Peter Hastings Falk, ed., The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Volume III, 1914-1968, (Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1989), p. 496.
  10. ^ a b "WIC Biography - Henriette Wyeth". www.wic.org. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Henriette Wyeth". Nedra Matteucci Galleries. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  12. ^ Fuente, Peter de La. "Family Bios". wyethhurd.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Henriette Wyeth". Heather James Fine Art. 
  14. ^ Exhibition of Paintings by Peter Hurd & Henriette Wyeth. Columbus: The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. 1967. 
  15. ^ a b "Henriette Wyeth (American)". www.mutualart.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  16. ^ "Art : The Wyeths: America's Artists | Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA)". www.kiarts.org. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  17. ^ "Magical & Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, a Retrospective — Exhibitions — James A. Michener Art Museum". www.michenerartmuseum.org. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 

External links[edit]