Victoria Wyeth doesn’t have a doctorate in art history, and lacks the academic credentials that distinguish art scholars from those who simply know a good painting when they see one.

But she’s an undisputed authority on the life and work of Andrew Wyeth, the master painter who portrayed Maine in his work for decades until his death in 2009. Wyeth, 31, is the only grandchild of the famous artist, and enjoyed a precocious friendship with him.

She spent countless hours with him every summer, and he told her things about his life and work that few others know. Wyeth, who graduated from Bates College and lives in Pennsylvania, is spending the summer in Maine, staying at the Wyeth home in Cushing while visiting with friends and family.

She is the daughter of Nicholas and Jane Wyeth, and the niece of painter Jamie Wyeth.

On Friday, she will share some of the family secrets when she gives an illustrated presentation, “Andrew Wyeth’s Maine,” at Strom Auditorium, Camden Hills Regional High School, in Rockport. The talk benefits the Rockland Public Library.

“I knew him as Andrew Wyeth, iconic artist. But I also knew him as Grandpa Andy,” she said.

Victoria Wyeth is an adept public speaker. Beginning at age 15, she led walking tours of Wyeth’s work at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

Friday’s talk will be wide-ranging and comprehensive, and will include the last interview she taped with her grandfather in August 2008. He died the following January at age 91.

“This talk will be very different than the Farnsworth tours,” she said. “The tours are great because you have the paintings right there and you can talk about them in detail. But you’re limited by the curator’s choice of what’s on view at that particular time.

“When I do my PowerPoint, I can show whatever I want, because I have access to everything.”

She promises a lively talk, and hopes to fill the 800-seat auditorium. “This is my call to Mainers to please come and see the wonderful work of my grandfather, but more important, to support the library,” she said.

Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for students.

As Wyeth’s only grandchild, Victoria Wyeth occupied a special place in his life. He doted on her, teased her and shared his daily routine with her in ways that few other people, including other members of the Wyeth clan, enjoyed. Their relationship was playful and fun, and also profoundly personal, she said.

At an early age, he told her to stiffen up and be strong because with her family background and the Wyeth name, she was bound to face adversaries no matter what course she chose for her life. “He believed in me at a time when I didn’t,” she said. “He said, ‘They will criticize you, they will mock you. Hold your head up high, sweetheart.’“

When Victoria was a teenager, she liked to sleep until noon. But her grandfather sometimes wouldn’t allow it. He’d wake her up early, drag her out of bed and take her outside to pose for a painting. Later, he might reward her with breakfast or an outing in Rockland, where he would buy her clothes.

When she was doing the Farnsworth tours, her grandfather often would lurk anonymously in the background, hovering on the outskirts of the group. As she explained a painting or offered insight about the subject, her grandfather sometimes would shout out, “Lies, it’s all a bunch of lies!” and then sneak away before anyone in the group could recognize him.

This summer, Wyeth has visited her grandfather’s grave in Cushing regularly. Mostly, she keeps it up with fresh flowers.

But a few weeks ago, she celebrated his life by setting off firecrackers.

“He would have loved that. He was full of hell,” she said. “He didn’t care what anybody else thought. He painted what was in his heart and in his soul, and that attitude translated into all aspects of his life. His greatest gift to me is he taught me how to think on my own.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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