Andrew Newell Wyeth was an American visual artist, primarily a realist painter, working predominantly in a regionalist style. He believed he was also an abstractionist, portraying subjects in a new, meaningful way. The son of N. C. Wyeth and father of Jamie Wyeth, he was one of the best-known U.S. artists of the middle 20th century. James H. Duff explores the art and lives of the three men in An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art. Raised with an appreciation of nature, Wyeth took walks that fired his imagination. Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost, and King Vidor's The Big Parade (1925) inspired him intellectually and artistically. Wyeth featured in a documentary The Metaphor in which he discussed Vidor's influence on the creation of his works of art, like Winter 1946 and Portrait of Ralph Kline. Wyeth was also inspired by Winslow Homer and Renaissance artists.
His father, N. C., gave him art lessons as a child, during which he developed the skills to create landscapes, illustrations, works of figures, and watercolor paintings. He also instilled a sense of passion and purpose in creating art that "enriches and broadens one's perspective." His brother-in-law, Peter Hurd, taught him to use egg tempera. Betsy managed his career and was also a strong influence in his work.
One of the best-known images in 20th-century American art is his tempera painting Christina's World, currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which was painted in 1948, when Wyeth was 31 years old. Wyeth is also known for The Helga Pictures.
In his art, Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. Also appearing in his works are his friend's Kuerner Farm and an 18th-century mill, Brinton's Mill, that Wyeth and his wife purchased. He made a collection of about 300 paintings of windows which were presented in the National Gallery of Art's 2014 exhibition, "Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In". In the 1960s, he began to paint portraits of family members, friends, and neighbors. Wyeth often said: "I paint my life."
Summarizing the variation of opinions about his work, art historian Robert Rosenblum said that Wyeth was the "most overrated and underrated" artist. He was known for his skill at creating watercolor and tempera paintings that engage one's senses and emotions. Christina's World became an iconic image, a status unmet to even the best paintings, "that registers as an emotional and cultural reference point in the minds of millions." Among the awards and honors that he received since 1947 are the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medals and he was elected to Britain's Royal Academy.