Wyeth, Henriette (1907–1997)

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Wyeth, Henriette (1907–1997)

American artist . Name variations: Henriette Wyeth Hurd. Born Ann Henriette Wyeth on October 22, 1907, in Wilmington, Delaware; died on April 3, 1997, in Roswell, New Mexico; daughter of Newell Convers Wyeth (the artist) and Carolyn Brenneman (Bockius) Wyeth; home schooled by father; attended an academy at the Museum of Art, Boston, 1921–23; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, beginning in 1923; married Peter Hurd (the artist), in 1929 (died 1984); children: Peter, Jr., Michael, and Carol Rogers Hurd.

Works featured in several exhibits:

Roswell Museum and Art Center; Gerald Peters Gallery, Sante Fe; Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; works displayed in several collections: Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Delaware Art Museum; Foundation of New York State University; Museum of Texas Tech University; New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Daughter of Carolyn Bockius Wyeth and celebrated American illustrator and painter N.C. Wyeth, artist Henriette Wyeth was born in 1907 in Wilmington, Delaware. At age three, she contracted life-threatening polio, but recovered fully, suffering only a deformation of her right hand. She and her four siblings were trained as artists by their father at their home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, near Wilmington, North Carolina. N.C. also chose to home-school his children because he distrusted public education. Along with her brother Andrew Wyeth, Henriette was the most artistically promising of the Wyeth children. She began formal art lessons with her father at age 11, doing charcoal studies and geometric shapes. She learned to paint with her left hand but was able to draw with her injured right hand.

In 1921, Wyeth entered the Boston Museum of Art academy, and two years later began to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Specializing in portraiture, she received commissions for paintings of Wilmington residents. Despite her personal success, Wyeth would remain heavily influenced by her father's unique realistic style, and reject painting genres, such as Impressionism and Cubism, which he disliked. She would also follow his political and social conservatism, rejecting as destructive to society the progressive movements of the 1960s and 1970s, including the women's movement, and criticizing television and modern culture for harming children.

At age 21, Wyeth married artist Peter Hurd, her father's apprentice and a fellow student at the Pennsylvania Academy. Two years later, the couple settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They were part of the first wave of visual artists to make the Santa Fe-Roswell area into a thriving arts community in the 1930s.

Wyeth had three children, and divided her time between her art and caring for her family. During World War II, she remained at home while Hurd worked as a war artist and correspondent for Life magazine. In the 1940s and 1950s, she received many commissions from wealthy patrons, including Helen Hayes ,Paulette Goddard , and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III (Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller ), for which she earned a lasting celebrity. She also explored painting still-lifes and the New Mexico landscape and rendered a portrait of Pat Nixon for the White House.

In 1963, Wyeth created a portrait of her brother Andrew Wyeth for the cover of Time magazine. The following year both Hurd and Wyeth were commissioned to produce a cover portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson for Time's "Man of the Year" issue. Solo exhibitions of Wyeth's work were held at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, and at the Gerald Peeters Gallery in Santa Fe. Individual works were purchased by many museums and private collectors, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. In 1981, Wyeth received the New Mexico Governor's Award in recognition of her contributions to New Mexican culture.

After Peter Hurd's death in 1984, Wyeth continued to paint on their ranch in San Patricio until ill health caused her to retire in the mid-1990s. Henriette Wyeth died in 1997 in Roswell, New Mexico, at age 89. She was survived by her son Michael Hurd and daughter Carol Rogers Hurd , both artists, and son Peter Hurd, a musician.


Magill, Frank N., ed. Great Lives From History. Vol. 5. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1995.

Obituary, in The Day [New London, CT]. April 4, 1997.

Laura York , M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside, California