These rolling hills outside Philadelphia are known primarily for 2 things: the Battle of Brandywine (a decisive loss for Washington that allowed the British to take control of Philadelphia) and the Wyeth family.
The family’s patriarch, NC, moved to nearby Wilmington to study with Howard Pyle, one of America’s premier illustrators. Soon NC became as popular as his mentor, going on to illustrate over 110 books. With the proceeds from one of his most popular, Treasure Island, he purchased 18 acres in Chadd’s Ford in 1911 to built his home/studio. He lived and worked here until his death in 1945 when his car was struck by a freight train.
All of NC’s children (except the DuPont engineer who helped invent the plastic soda bottle) had artistic careers. The most famous, Andrew, was trained by his father and went on to become one of the foremost 20th century realist painters. His studio, a renovated 1875 schoolhouse located on the property, was used from 1940-2008. First acting as both home and studio, the family eventually moved down the road, leaving the building as just a studio space. Many of Andrew’s paintings were created here, inspired by the local people, architecture and landscapes.
Even Snoopy was a fan!
Andrews’s son, Jamie, also became a painter, first training with his aunt in his grandfather’s old studio, and then with his father in the old schoolhouse. Jamie went on to study in New York, becoming a well known portrait painter working with many 60’s and 70’s personas, including Andy Warhol, Robert Kennedy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Today, the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art help to preserve the family’s legacy, by protecting the natural, historic, and scenic resources of the area. They manage, conserve, and run tours of NC’s house/studio, the Kuerner Farm (which was the subject of many of Andrew’s paintings, and the location where many of the 240 infamous Helga paintings were created), and Andrew’s studio:
They are active in land conservation and native plant propagation, plus run the art museum. The Brandywine River Museum of Art, housed in a converted grist mill, has extensive collections of Wyeth family works and is situated adjacent to the Brandywine Creek.
The battlefield park is located just across the street.