Andrew Wyeth’s melancholic paintings of rural American life will soon be available as postage stamps, released in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth on July 12, 1917. The United States Postal Service announced this week that the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Andrew Wyeth Forever stamps will be July 12 at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. This month, the museum opened a major retrospective showcasing over 100 of Wyeth’s paintings and works on paper, including some selected for the stamps, such as the 1967 “Spring Fed.” In it, cows are visible through an open window, snow dotting the landscape; inside, a sink brims with running water.
The details of 12 Wyeth paintings adorning the stamps concentrate on his quiet country scenes, which, although sometimes criticized as sentimental, have a haunting realism. They include his most famous work — “Christina’s World” (1948), now at the Museum of Modern Art — in which a woman paralyzed by polio crawls across a windswept landscape, and his 1960 “Young Bull” with the titular animal shadowed by the wall of a farmhouse. There are also more recent works by the artist, who died in 2009, such as the 1988 “Big Room” that recalls the living room of his childhood home in muted light, and the 2003 “The Carry” centered on the torrent of a river.
His more startling works, like the 1994 “Breakup” depicting his own hands reaching through an ice floe, and his eerie 1949 “The Revenant,” a self-portrait in a charred room, are not included. The complete set of 12 stamps is printed on a “selvage” sheet with a photograph of the late artist at his easel. While this March the USPS released designs featuring WPA posters, the Wyeth editions might be the most visually interesting artist-centric stamps since the 2015 series with work by self-taught illustrator Martín Ramírez. Along with the Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp that was issued this month by USPS, incorporating thermochromic ink that reveals a luminous moon at the touch of a finger, 2017 is a promising year for more creative American postage.