Three times a day, when students enter the dining room at the Westtown School, they sit down with a giant for a meal.

Well-known local American artist N.C. Wyeth was commissioned to paint The Giant in 1923 by the Westtown Class of 1910 as a tribute to their friend and classmate who died in the prime of his life. The imaginative oil painting has hung in the dining room of Westtown School ever since.

As the West Chester college preparatory school celebrated 100 years of The Giant, Springhouse Films shot, edited and produced a short film highlighting the history and significance of the work of art that honors the memory of William Clothier Engle (1891 – 1916).

Remembered by his friends as a gifted artist, Engle studied with Wyeth in Chadds Ford for a time after his graduation from Westtown, as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Tragically, he died from tuberculosis in 1916 at the age of 25.

Engle’s former classmates contacted Wyeth since he was known to Westtown through the school’s first director of fine arts, George Whitney. A pupil of Howard Pyle, Wyeth was part of what’s known as the Golden Age of American Illustration. He carefully chose to reflect Engles’ love of the sea in The Giant and he includes his own five children in the painting.

This short film was done in collaboration with The Brandywine Museum and Westtown School and was filmed on location at Wyeth’s studio in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The studio is located just nine miles from Westtown School and is set up just as he left it — the palette he used on the day of his death and his last unfinished canvas.

DIRECTOR / EDITOR: Erik Freeland
ARCHIVAL RESEARCH: Chrissie Perella Clement