Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (BOLLI)

The Life and Work of N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) as an Illustrator and Painter

Course Number


Study Group Leader (SGL)

Margaret Mukherjee


This course will take place virtually on Zoom. Participation requires a device (ideally a computer or tablet, rather than a cell phone) with a camera and microphone in good working order and basic familiarity with using Zoom and accessing email.

5-Week Course

April 1 - May 6. No Class April 22.


Who is N.C. Wyeth? How did he become a famous illustrator and painter? Our study of N.C. Wyeth begins with his life as a child growing up in rural Needham on the banks of the Charles River in a family compound with Swiss immigrant grandparents. We follow his path as he leaves for study with the well-known illustrator and painter, Howard Pyle, in Wilmington, Delaware where his education included critically important “study trips'' to the far west, and later when he is selected to do illustrations for novels by Robert Louis Stevenson, for which he receives wide acclaim, especially Robinson Crusoe. During this time that he is becoming widely recognized for his illustrations, we read of his longings to be recognized as a painter. As we study this, we also learn of his strong affinity for home and place, especially expressed in his paintings near the family’s summer home off the coast of Maine. Our study of N.C. Wyeth concludes with a brief overview of his legacy in the art world as recognized today, and that of his children, three of whom became artists. 

Group Leadership Style

Roughly the same amount of lecture and discussion.

Course Materials

Course materials will consist of videos and readings to be provided on the class website.

Preparation Time

About 1.5 hours.

Margaret Mukherjee has enjoyed a long and varied career in higher education which has included working with faculty at universities in central and eastern Europe and Asia. She holds a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy Development and an MA in Textiles, Clothing and Related Arts. She has led several BOLLI courses on American art movements, the most recent one being Graffiti and Street Art.