An illustration of Indians and fur traders in a canoe by Andrew Wyeth, from The Brandywine.
Illustrators Wyeth and Ward
Many talented illustrators contributed to the Rivers of America series. Andrew Wyeth and Lynd Ward are two notable examples.
Andrew Wyeth and The Brandywine
Andrew Wyeth lived his whole life in Chadds Ford (Pennsylvania) on the east bank of the Brandywine, a tributary to the Christina River. His father, a successful magazine and book illustrator, taught him to draw. Wyeth started his career with watercolor drawings. He sold all the watercolors he had at his first show when he was 20 years old.
Four years later, in 1941, Wyeth provided the illustrations for The Brandywine by Henry Seidel Canby. Canby, who was friends with Rivers of America editor Carl Carmer and publisher John Farrar, may have recommended Wyeth as the illustrator. Farrar & Rinehart paid Wyeth $350 for The Brandywine, his first book illustrations. Wyeth could have followed in his father's footsteps doing covers for the Saturday Evening Post, but he decided in 1943 to pursue a path as an independent artist rather than as an illustrator.
Wyeth became famous in 1948 with his painting Christina's World. It depicts his neighbor Christina Olson, who had polio-induced paralysis. Wyeth is considered a regionalist artist. Much of his work focuses on the scenery around his home in Chadds Ford.
Lynd Ward and The Sangamon
Harry Ward named his second son "Lynd" after "Lyndhurst," the English village where he learned to love nature. Harry Ward passed his love of the outdoors on to his son and encouraged him to draw what he saw. Ward's mother also nurtured his artistic talent with visits to art museums. Ward decided to become an artist when his first grade teacher pointed out that "Ward" is "draw" spelled backward.
Ward studied art at Columbia University and then printmaking at the Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig, Germany. He absorbed the influence of German Expressionism. He also purchased his first "wordless novel" told in wood engravings: Die Sonne by Frans Masereel.
Ward returned to New York to freelance as an illustrator. After reading another "wordless novel" by Otto Nückel, Ward started to write one of his own. The result, Gods' Man, was published in 1929 when Ward was 24 years old. It was the first American woodcut novel and very successful. By the time Ward illustrated The Sangamon in 1942 he had already completed all six of his wordless woodcut novels. Ward illustrated over 200 books before his death in 1985.
An icy recreation scene by Andrew Wyeth, from The Brandywine.
A hilltop farming scene by Andrew Wyeth, from The Brandywine.
A depiction of the Revolutionary War Battle of Brandywine by Andrew Wyeth, from The Brandywine.
A depiction of skeletons in an archaeological excavation by Lynd Ward, from The Sangamon.
An illustration of deer in a thunderstorm by Lynd Ward, from The Sangamon.
Portrait of Black Hawk by Lynd Ward, from The Sangamon.
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Lynd Ward, from The Sangamon.
-- Written by Mary Rose
Adams, Henry and Margaret Barlow. "Wyeth." In Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Online access is restricted to SIUE users.
Canby, Henry Seidel. The Brandywine. Illustrated by Andrew Wyeth. Rivers of America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1941.
Chilvers, Ian. "Wyeth, Andrew." The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Online access is restricted to SIUE users.
Fitzgerald, Carol. The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2001.
Masters, Edgar Lee. The Sangamon. Illustrated by Lynd Ward. Rivers of America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942.
Ward, Lynd. Gods' Man; Madman's Drum; Wild Pilgrimage. Edited by Art Spiegelman. New York: The Library of America, 2010.
Ward, Lynd. For a list of Lynd Ward's wordless woodcut novels available at Lovejoy Library, click here.