John W. McCoy

John W. McCoy, Spring on the Brandywine, c. 1940, watercolor, 21 x 29 inches
John W. McCoy, Spring on the Brandywine, c. 1940, watercolor, 21 x 29 inches


John McCoy was a brilliantly trained painter and a highly respected member of the Wyeth family and the Brandywine School.  He was formally trained at Cornell University, studied at the Beaux Arts School in Fontainbleau, France, after which noted artist-illustrator N.C. Wyeth privately tutored him.  A painter who embraces abstraction, realism, modernism, and tradition, John McCoy married N.C. Wyeth’s daughter, Ann Wyeth, and, until his death in 1989, they lived near the Wyeth family home at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  In realist style, he painted the surrounding landscape and the coast of Maine where the family vacationed.  From 1946 to 1961, he taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

McCoy captured the tranquil and brooding aspects of nature in his watercolor and mixed media paintings of the rocky coast and coves of Maine, along with the lush fields of moving grasses and wildflowers.  He also captured the beauty of the Brandywine River and the Pennsylvania countryside in his tempera and watercolor paintings.  By the 1950s, McCoy had also developed an interest in the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock, and began experimenting with mixed media and pouring, dripping, and floating paint on canvas.  The book, John McCoy, an American Painter, by Anna B. McCoy, with commentary by Andrew Wyeth, tells of McCoy’s struggle for an independent creative voice and his determination to reduce painting to its essence.  Due to a tragic illness, John McCoy stopped painting in 1983.

John McCoy has exhibited nationally in major museums, including the Carnegie Institute, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Brandywine River Museum.  In 2001, a major retrospective exhibition of his work was shown at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware.

2000         John McCoy

John W. McCoy, American Painter by Anna B. McCoy    $30