Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009

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Andrew Wyeth, best-loved painter of wistfulness, rural bleakness, menace, Puritanical solitude and an America lost to 20th-century dry rot, died yesterday morning in his sleep at the Wyeth family estate in Chadds Ford, Pa., between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. He was 91. He died in just the sort of weather he loved, the empty cold and the sharp sunlight of the dead of winter.

"America's best-known and best-loved artist," said a catalogue for a 1996 show at the Baltimore Museum of Art, before it elevated him still higher: "America's artist."

At a White House dinner in 1970, Richard Nixon toasted Wyeth as an artist who "caught the heart of America." Critic Jay Jacobs once called him "the spiritual leader of Middle America."

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