By the time he turned 30, Andrew Wyeth had already cemented himself as one of the most important and quintessential American artists of his time. Born a full century ago in Chadds Ford, Penn., on July 12, 1917, Wyeth’s only formal education in art came from his father, Newell Convers “N.C.” Wyeth, who was an accomplished illustrator in his own right. When LIFE profiled the younger Wyeth in 1948, he was well along in his career, having sold out his first solo exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York City a decade prior. His most famous painting, Christina’s World, was painted the same year the 1948 article appeared in LIFE, but is not mentioned.
LIFE would feature Wyeth, who died in 2009, and his paintings many times over the years, including extensive articles in 1953 and a 1965 profile that featured 22 pages of his favorite paintings and a first-person interview by Richard Meryman, who became a good friend of Wyeth’s and went on to write a biography of the painter.
Of his most famous painting, which now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Wyeth said, “When I first painted it in 1948, Christina’s World hung all summer in my house in Maine and nobody particularly reacted to it. I thought, ‘Boy, is this one ever a flat tire.'”