The Delaware Historical Society owns a draft of a letter Pyle wrote in December 1905, while negotiating with S. S. McClure about taking over the art editorship of McClure’s Magazine (as well as a larger scheme that never took off). In it, Pyle states:
It so happens that for years I have been teaching my pupils that that which really counts in the work of a true artist is not so much the ability to draw well and to paint well as it is to say something from the heart concerning Nature and humanity and in saying that thing so strongly that it shall make a vital appeal to other men and women, even if they do not know much about the technical excellencies of art.So much for Pyle’s point of view. But Parrish, too, touched on the subject three different times in letters (now at the Delaware Art Museum) to Richard Wayne Lykes, author of the invaluable thesis, “Howard Pyle, Teacher of Illustration”:
The result of this plan of education has been that my pupils have been almost unusually successful in their work. For I have been able to train such artists as Mr Parrish, Miss Green, Miss Smith, Miss Oakley, Mr Aylward, Mr Schoonover, Mr Wyeth, Mr Arthurs, Mr Oakley, etc etc. so that their work has made a distinct impression upon the world of American Art - at least of American Magazine Art.
I was in his class at the Drexel Institute for only a winter and did not have the chance to know him as well as members of his class which was formed afterwards.... It was not so much the actual things he taught us as contact with his personality that really counted. Somehow after a talk with him you felt inspired to go out and do great things, and wondered afterwards by what magic he did it... [March 28, 1945]
You see, I knew him impersonally for one winter in a rather large class, whereas those thirty members of his class at Chadds Ford had a chance during the five summers to get thoroughly acquainted with him.... I really could not say just what part of my training could be attributed to H.P. Inspiration perhaps more than anything... [April 9, 1945]
I wish I could tell you more of my association with H.P. - anecdotes and the like, I saw far less of him than the other students, and hardly had a chance to get acquainted. I’ve an idea I dropped out of that first class at the Drexel Institute before the end, no doubt to work on soap advertisements and worse, dreadful stuff, but wasn’t I glad to get them! I had one grand day with him when he invited me down to Wilmington, and we drove around the countryside. He was living then in the fine old house of Ambassador Byard (?) [sic: Bayard] After that I never saw him again. [January 15, 1948]Incidentally, Pyle moved out of the Bayard house, “Delamore,” in (I think) April 1896, so the visit occurred sometime in 1895 or ’96. Parrish also noted in a January 10, 1951, letter to Thornton Oakley: “Yes, I was in Howard Pyle’s class at Drexel for a while.”
So there you go.
And it’s interesting to point out that - I’m pretty sure - Parrish and Pyle’s wife, Anne Poole Pyle, were blood relatives: first cousins twice removed, to be exact: Anne’s grandparents, William Poole and Sarah Sharples, were Parrish’s great-great grandparents.