A fire in a Maine village on Wednesday destroyed multiple original paintings by the renowned painter Jamie Wyeth of the Wyeth family of artists, along with several waterfront buildings.
The fire broke out shortly before 11 p.m. on Wednesday at The Dip Net restaurant in Port Clyde, Maine, and spread quickly, said Michael Smith, the chief of the fire department in St. George, the town that includes Port Clyde.
The fire eventually engulfed other establishments, including a general store, an art gallery displaying the Wyeth artworks and the offices of the Monhegan Boat Line, a company that ferried passengers to nearby Moneghan Island.
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was still being investigated.
Smith called the building that housed the art gallery a town staple that was more than 200 years old. It was a place, he said, “where everybody went and had breakfast and had a counter to hang out on and gossip.”
The art gallery, which belonged to Linda Bean, was above the general store that was destroyed in the fire.
Bean, who also owned the general store for 16 years, said in a statement that among the losses were three paintings by the artist Jamie Wyeth and a recently acquired original from N.C. Wyeth, Jamie’s grandfather and one of the most celebrated illustrators in American history. She called the fire “a devastating blow.”
The three destroyed paintings were titled “Snapper,” “With Green Peppers” and “Red Tail Hawk,” and the illustration was inside the Henry David Thoreau book “Men of Concord.”
“It’s the heart of the town. The general store is where everyone gathers. It is a terrible loss,” Wyeth told The Portland Press Herald.
The Wyeth family is known as a dynasty in American art. Jamie’s father, Andrew, was one of the renowned realist painters of the 20th century, despite being one of the more divisive artists of his time. His best known works include “Christina’s World,” which was set in Maine and is now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Wyeths have been tied to the Port Clyde area for more than a century, after N.C. Wyeth, Andrew’s father, purchased a summer cottage in 1920, which he named Eight Bells. The family also owned two islands — Allen and Benner — near the village after they were purchased by Betsy Wyeth, Jamie’s mother. Colby College announced last year that it had taken over ownership of the islands.
Jamie Wyeth, the youngest child of his parents, continued the family legacy as a painter, with works including a 1967 painting of President John F. Kennedy that was once displayed above a fireplace in the home of then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden. Wyeth, now 77, was in his early 20s when members of the Kennedy family asked him to paint the portrait after President Kennedy was assassinated.
Wyeth could not be reached for comment.