The farm that launched a thousand paintings can now be visited
Nearly as impressive as the meticulous detail work in Andrew Wyeth’s painting is the balancing act he maintains between opposing schools of art: modern without being modernist, classical without being stuffy, and realistic without being either ironic or pretty. It must be admitted, however, that he shows a marked fondness for grays and beiges. For anyone who has spent time among Wyeth’s austere canvases, then, the farm of his Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, neighbors Karl and Anna Kuerner—where Wyeth has made more than 1,000 paintings, starting in 1932—will be a revelation in its very ordinariness: green grass, bright sunshine, and wide-open spaces.
The Kuerners, immigrants from Germany, rented the farm in 1926 and bought it in 1940. It stayed in the family until 1999, two years after Anna’s death, when it was sold to the Brandy wine Conservancy, the nonprofit group that operates the Brandy wine River Museum. Last year the farm was opened to the public. Now visitors can explore the sites of some of Wyeth’s most memorable works and see how the painter altered details to fit his artistic vision. The farm can be visited only on tours from the museum, which are conducted from late April through mid-November (the farm is closed in winter, when it is at its most Wyethesque). Tours of the nearby N. C. Wyeth House and Stu dio, where Andrew grew up and his father created timeless illustrations, are also available.
Even without the Kuerner farm, the Brandywine River Museum is worth a visit. Its collection of Wyeth family art—from N.C. to Andrew to Andrew’s son Jamie, along with assorted artistic spouses and cousins—is unsurpassed. Elsewhere in the museum are displays of American illustration, landscapes, genre paintings, and still lifes, plus seasonal exhibits such as children’s-book art and a strikingly extensive and detailed model-train layout at Christmas. Not the least of the museum’s charms is the inspiring view it affords of the river whose name it bears. See it in full torrent after a heavy rain, or meandering lazily through late-autumn trees, and you’ll want to get some brushes and start painting yourself. For information, go to