John DeWitt was born in 1910 and was a wood sculptor and federal arts administrator in Washingon, D.C.
DeWitt began his career as a professional writer and was a wood sculptor connected with the Veerhoff Gallery in Washington, D.C. His wife, Miriam Hapgood DeWitt, was a painter. In the late 1960s, DeWitt was the Director of Art Programs for the Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of Interior responsible for water conservation in arid regions of the United States. At this time, the Bureau initiated a program to present its accomplishments to the public through arts commissions and exhibitions. Under the direction of DeWitt and Lloyd Goodrich of the Whitney Museum of American Art, some 40 artists including Ralston Crawford, Peter Hurd, and Norman Rockwell, were invited to depict the scope of reclamation projects in the American West. The artists were given a free hand to depict any scene in any medium as long as the subject matter pertained to the Bureau of Reclamation's program. The resulting artwork was displayed in an exhibition, The American Artist and Water Reclamation, that opened at the National Gallery of Art in April 1972, and then toured the country in a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.
As the Director of the Visual Arts Program for the Department of the Interior, DeWitt celebrated the Bicentennial by organizing the exhibition America 1976, for which he hired over forty realist painters including Vija Celmins, Ralston Crawford, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, and Wayne Thiebaud, to depict a diverse range of Americana. DeWitt was employed by the Department of the Interior until 1977.
John DeWitt died in 1984.