Friday, December 11, 2009

The Suicide, 1905

I remember when I first saw this picture: I was about 14, in the basement of the Argosy Bookstore in Manhattan, desperately leafing through bound volumes of Harper's Monthly in search of Pyles - and this one stopped me dead in my tracks. That gleaming sliver cutting through the curtains! It still makes me squint. And contrast that intense glow with the grayish pallor of the dead man's flesh - the same tone as his shirt and the curiously placed globe lampshade. The butler's expression may be too exaggerated, but still this is one of Pyle's most ingenious works in color.

"The Crown-Prince Karl, dead by his own hand" illustrated "Carlotta" by Justus Miles Forman in Harper's Monthly for May 1905. Subsequently, Pyle exhibited the painting with the title "The Suicide," but the subject was apparently off-putting to buyers and it remained unsold at the time of his death. The Delaware Art Museum now owns the original.


2 comments:

Richard J. Luschek II said...

What an amazing design. The powerful slash through the center really adds to the mood. I agree the look on the butlers face is a bit odd, but maybe it was a way to take some of the edge off.
Thank you for setting up the blog about the father of American illustration. I am enjoying reading it.

Ian Schoenherr said...

You're very welcome!