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Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle Howard Pyle[1†]

Howard Pyle (March 5, 1853 – November 9, 1911) was an American illustrator, painter, and author, primarily known for his work in children’s books[1†]. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Pyle spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy[1†]. His career in illustration began at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (now Drexel University), where he started teaching in 1894[1†]. His students included notable artists such as Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, and Jessie Willcox Smith[1†].

Early Years and Education

Howard Pyle was born on March 5, 1853, in Wilmington, Delaware[1†]. He was the son of William Pyle and Margaret Churchman Painter[1†][2†]. His parents were Quakers[1†][3†], and he attended private schools[1†][4†][2†]. Pyle showed an interest in drawing and writing from a very young age[1†][2†]. Although he was an indifferent student, his parents, particularly his mother, encouraged him to study art[1†][2†].

Pyle attended the Friends’ School in Wilmington[1†][3†]. He then studied for three years at the studio of F. A. Van der Wielen in Philadelphia[1†]. This constituted the whole of his artistic training, aside from a few lessons at the Art Students League of New York[1†].

In 1876, Pyle visited the island of Chincoteague off Virginia and was inspired by what he saw[1†]. He wrote and illustrated an article about the island and submitted it to Scribner’s Monthly[1†]. This marked the beginning of his career as an illustrator and author.

Career Development and Achievements

Howard Pyle’s career began in earnest when he wrote and illustrated an article about the island of Chincoteague off Virginia, which he submitted to Scribner’s Monthly[1†]. This marked the beginning of his career as an illustrator and author[1†].

In 1894, Pyle began teaching illustration at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (now Drexel University)[1†]. His students included notable artists such as Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, and Jessie Willcox Smith[1†]. Pyle’s influence extended beyond his classroom. In 1900, he founded his own school of art and illustration, the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art[1†]. This institution played a significant role in shaping the Brandywine School, a term later used by scholar Henry C. Pitz to describe the artists and Wyeth family artists of the Brandywine region, many of whom had studied under Pyle[1†].

Pyle’s work has had a lasting impact on the field of illustration. His 1883 publication, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, remains in print to this day[1†]. His other books, often set in medieval Europe, include a four-volume set on King Arthur[1†]. Pyle is also well-known for his illustrations of pirates and is credited with creating the modern stereotype of pirate dress[1†].

His first novel, Otto of the Silver Hand, was published in 1888[1†]. He also illustrated historical and adventure stories for periodicals such as Harper’s Magazine and St. Nicholas Magazine[1†]. His novel Men of Iron was adapted into the movie The Black Shield of Falworth in 1954[1†].

Pyle travelled to Florence, Italy in 1910 to study mural painting[1†]. He died there in 1911 of a sudden kidney infection (Bright’s disease)[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Howard Pyle’s career as an author and illustrator was marked by a number of significant works that have had a lasting impact on the field of children’s literature[2†][1†].

Pyle also illustrated historical and adventure stories for periodicals such as Harper’s Magazine and St. Nicholas Magazine[2†][1†]. His ability to bring stories to life through his illustrations made him a sought-after contributor for these publications[2†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Howard Pyle was one of America’s most popular illustrators and storytellers at the end of the 19th century, a period of explosive growth in the publishing industry[6†]. His illustrations appeared in magazines like Harper’s Monthly, St. Nicholas, and Scribner’s Magazine, gaining him both national and international exposure[6†].

Pyle crafted a unique approach to the art of illustration by immersing himself in the art of his time[6†]. He adapted his technique to suit the story being illustrated, drawing on a broad range of styles, including Pre-Raphaelitism, Aestheticism, Symbolism, and American realist painting[6†]. His success as an artist was enhanced by his audience’s knowledge of and appreciation of the many American and European sources that he referenced and quoted[6†].

Pyle’s body of work includes images of European history from the classical period through the 18th century[6†]. His depictions of the ancient world echoed an interest in classical subject matter prominent in academic painting in Europe[6†]. He was particularly fond of the Middle Ages and wrote and illustrated several works set in medieval Europe and England[6†].

Pyle’s pirate imagery, perhaps his best-known work, is a unique combination of historical accuracy and his own personal vision[6†]. His interest in authenticity is demonstrated by his archive of costume books and historic manuscripts[6†]. However, there was very little visual information regarding exactly what pirates wore. Pyle filled in the blanks with his vibrant imagination to create images that still shape our view of pirate clothing today[6†].

Perhaps Pyle’s strongest and most enduring images are those depicting the past and present of the United States[6†]. The American Colonial Revival was in full swing in the 1880s, and Pyle certainly joined in the enthusiasm for celebrating the nation’s history[6†].

His illustrations are vivid and imaginative, yet not overly fantastic or contrived, lending them an air of colorful realism[6†][1†]. Pyle’s insistence on authenticity made a significant impact on later artists, including Norman Rockwell, who remembered him as “a historian with a brush"[6†][7†].

Personal Life

Howard Pyle was born into a Quaker family in Wilmington, Delaware[5†]. He was the son of William Pyle and Margaret Churchman Painter[5†][2†]. His interest in drawing and writing was evident from a very young age[5†][2†].

On April 12, 1881, Pyle married Anne Poole[5†][8†]. The couple had seven children together[5†][8†]. However, they tragically lost one of their children, Sellers, in 1889 while Pyle and his wife, Margaret, were on tour in Jamaica[5†][8†].

Pyle lived most of his life in Delaware, except for two years at the Art Students League early in his career and one year at the end of his life in Italy[5†]. In 1910, he traveled to Florence, Italy, to study mural painting[5†][2†]. Unfortunately, he died there in 1911 of a sudden kidney infection, also known as Bright’s disease[5†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Howard Pyle’s legacy is vast and enduring. He was not only a prolific illustrator and author but also a dedicated teacher who had a profound influence on American illustration[7†][1†][9†]. His work and teachings ushered in the golden age of American illustration and influenced generations of illustrators in the United States[7†][9†].

Pyle’s reputation stems from his innovation in form and illustration, creating an American school of illustration and art, and for the revival of children’s books[7†][1†]. His influence extended beyond children’s literature and the course of American graphic art, as he also popularized the Anglo-Saxon myths and legends for American audiences[7†][10†].

His students, including notable artists like N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Thornton Oakley, Allen Tupper True, Stanley Arthurs, and many others, carried forward his teachings and made significant contributions to the field[7†][1†].

Pyle’s work, particularly his illustrations of pirates and medieval European settings, continues to captivate audiences, and his books remain in print to this day[7†][1†]. His novel Men of Iron was even adapted into the movie The Black Shield of Falworth in 1954[7†][1†].

In conclusion, Howard Pyle’s impact on American illustration and children’s literature is immeasurable. His innovative approach, coupled with his dedication to teaching, has left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire artists and readers alike[7†][1†][10†][9†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Howard Pyle [website] - link
  2. WikiArt.org - Howard Pyle - 80 artworks - painting [website] - link
  3. Britannica Kids - Howard Pyle [website] - link
  4. American Art Gallery - Biography of Howard Pyle [website] - link
  5. National Museum of American Illustration - HOWARD PYLE [website] - link
  6. American Art Gallery - Illustration History - Howard Pyle [website] - link
  7. Illustration History - Chasing the Muse: Norman Rockwell and the Legacy of Howard Pyle [website] - link
  8. SunSigns - Howard Pyle Biography, Life, Interesting Facts [website] - link
  9. Delaware Art Museum - Howard Pyle Manuscript Collection [website] - link
  10. New World Encyclopedia - Howard Pyle [website] - link
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