N.C. Wyeth's The Husking Bee is a celebration of rural American life in the first half of the twentieth century. As in his best works, N.C. Wyeth has successfully captured for his audience the camaraderie and merriment of collective work. Wyeth has chosen to illustrate a moment when one of the huskers reveals that he has discovered a cob of Indian corn, and according to tradition, he is compelled to marry the woman next to him.
Typical of N.C. Wyeth's work, the composition is carefully arranged, with a chain of figures engaged in various phases of husking corn in the center. Above their heads, three lanterns illuminate their work. The light-colored corn and husks in the bottom of the composition are harmoniously balanced with the starry sky above. Although his work was used for commercial purposes, N.C. Wyeth took the greatest care to produce paintings of the finest quality. "Like Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth was deeply disturbed as he contemplated the gradual deterioration of illustration as a result of the lack of sound basic training in the art schools. To be a success in the field of illustration it was not only essential that a student know how to draw, but, more important, that he be educated to project himself into the soul of the character to be depicted in an illustration. . . . [According to N.C. Wyeth, illustration] is too often a detached art and makes little pretense to be in working harmony and sympathetically submissive to the spirit of the tale." (D. Allen and D. Allen, Jr., N. C. Wyeth, New York, 1972, p. 127)
This work is included in the N.C. Wyeth catalogue raisonné database that is being compiled by the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania as number 1868.