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Lincoln Kirstein 1907–1996
In the catalogue accompanying Jamie Wyeth's first one-man show in 1966, Lincoln Kirstein lauded the twenty-year-old artist as "the finest American portrait-painter since the death of John Singer Sargent." Kirstein, nearly sixty when he sat for this portrait by Wyeth, was likewise gifted at a young age. His interest in the arts blossomed while he was an undergraduate at Harvard, where he cofounded a literary magazine and a society for contemporary art. Eventually, Kirstein published more than thirty books and hundreds of articles on the visual and performing arts. He balanced roles throughout his life as writer, scholar, poet, businessman, and founder—with choreographer George Balanchine—of several ballet companies.

In preparation for painting Kirstein, Wyeth sketched him from both the front and the back. This back pose, free of the distractions of shirt and tie, emphasizes Kirstein's massive frame, which rises like a monolithic tower from an unseen foundation.

Jamie Wyeth (born 1946)
Graphite and crayon on paper, 1965
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Jamie Wyeth
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