The Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsyvania is honoring Howard Pyle, 1853-1911. on the one-hundred anniversary of his death.
Howard Pyle was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He grew up to be recognized as a world renowned illustrator. In fact Norman Rockwell, 1894-1978. in his painting, A Family Tree, put the initials HP at the bottom of that painting to acknowledge his appreciation of Pyle’s paintings. It has been said that Pyle and Rockwell were totally American, yet not at all alike.
Howard Pyle opined; “Art is not a transcript nor a copy. It is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul.”
Pyle, in his lifetime produced a remarkable number of children’s books. Many of Pyle’s greatest pictures came from his intense and loyal interest in Americana. His renditions of the War for Independence period and of Civil War subjects have since become standard pictures in our history books. Pyle advised his students to; “Throw your heart into your picture, and leap in after it.”
Howard Pyle’s imagination was fed by the idyllic surroundings of his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware. He would be inspired by them in his illustrations and writings. Pyle credits his mother for brightening up his childhood with her illuminating joyfulness in the beauty of things. Pyle’s mother ingrained in him the concept of the picture springing from literary ideas. As one studies Pyle’s illustration this point becomes obvious.
At age sixteen his mother encouraged him to study art and enrolled him in an Art School in Philadelphia. He commuted to Philly for three years to study under the Belgian artist Van der Weilen. In the spring of 1876, he took a trip to Chincoteague Island to observe the annual roundup of wild ponies. He came away with being engrossed in the beauty of the ponies.
Pyle, in 1871 designed the masthead for the Every Evening newspaper in Wilmington. It should be noted that, The Every Evening newspaper merged into the Journal Evening in 1933, and in 1960 it became the Evening Journal. The DuPont Company through its Christiana Securities holdings sold the paper to the Gannett Company in 1978.
After his marriage in 1881 he moved to 607 Washington Street. In 1883 he opened a studio at 1305 Franklin Street. Pyle’s, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottingshire is considered by many the most beautiful example of his twin talents as author-illusrator.
Pyle spent many a summer in Rehoboth Beach were he was immersed in local legends of pirates and their buried treasures. He stared his teaching career in 1884 at the Drexel Institute of Arts and Science in Philly. He opened his Howard Pyle School of Arts in Wilmington in 1900.
He died in Florence, Italy and is buried there. Irony of ironies this was his first trip abroad. It strikes me as being rather incongruous that one who spent a lifetime exuding Americana would be covered with foreign soil after his death?
I recommend a trip to the Brandywine Museum to give your eyes a treat to Pyle’s paintings.
Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.