Skill In His Genes

Today the weather was dull throughout without even the relief of the forecast drizzle. Jackie was trapped this morning in a dreaded two hour Tesco shop. While waiting for her in the car I had plenty of time to finish reading my book.

As so often years ago, when a book review had prompted me to buy a copy, I would leave the newspaper article slipped inside my purchase.

Normally I would write the date and source on the cutting. On this occasion I didn’t. I was therefore pleased to see

this snippet about Andy Irvine on the reverse. A little research established that the piece would have been published some time in March 1981.

I don’t normally give away much of the story of a volume I am featuring.

Philippa Toomey’s review, being itself an essential part of my tale for today, has, on this occasion, done it for me. Any review ending with ‘a very strange book indeed’ linked with the name Wyeth was bound to send me off to the Baker Street Bookshop managed by my friend Graham Charnock to order a copy, the delivery note of which, dated May 1981, fits with my research.

My copy of The Helga Pictures by Andrew Wyeth was the reason the name appealed. I now know that the Wyeths are dynasty of leading American illustrators dating back to N. C. Wyeth from the golden age of the early 20th Century.

Andrew was the husband of Betsy James and the father of Jamie.

This book was published simultaneously in America and Canada by Farrar Straus Giroux in 1979. To Pilippa Toomey’s review I would add that the narrative of Mrs Wyeth flows, surging with life, as do the exquisite drawings of her son, whose skill is in his genes.

In this selection of pages from the work I have been constrained by the format and the breadth of the artist’s vision. I could not include everything. As usual, a click on any image will access the gallery, each member of which can be viewed full size by clicking the box beneath the right hand corner. Further enlargement is also possible.

This evening we dined on roasted chicken thighs; crisp Yorkshire puddings; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender green beans with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, which, of course, was the reason for the Tesco shop; and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2019.