HOWARD PYLE GIVES LECTUREAnd an as yet unidentified newspaper gave a much more detailed report, also on January 10, 1906, which I’ve transcribed in full, below. Although the article names a number of the pictures Pyle featured in his slideshow, I’m having difficulty identifying all of them, so if anyone can present some more viable candidates, please let me know.
That the true spirit of art is the work of the imagination and soul of the artist, which expresses his inner thought clearly and forcefully, even though the work may not be technically correct, was the theory advanced yesterday afternoon by Howard Pyle, the well-known artist, in the Drexel Institute.
HOWARD PYLE TELLS OF THE TRUE IN ART
HOW A PAINTER MAY REALLY ATTAIN HIS IDEAL
Work of Famous Men Portrayed in a Lecture Delivered at the Drexel Institute
Howard Pyle lectured at the Drexel Institute yesterday on “The True in Art.” His chief aim was to show that the ambition of a great artist should be to portray his ideal in as vividly life-like a manner as the barriers to all artistic expression will permit. He cannot express passage of time or increase of age, the speaker said, but he can express emotion.
To illustrate the difference between the art of the past and that of the present, as regards the truest understanding of a picture, was another of Mr. Pyle’s objects. The main difference, he said, lies in the difference of man’s mind, which in the Middle Ages was not creative. To illustrate the speaker’s points stereopticon views were given. Four pictures representative of the art of the past, which were shown, pointed out that in the picture of the Madonna by Botticelli the Virgin is not portrayed as a Jewish maiden, but as an Italian symbolic of the perfection of womanhood. The same is true of Raphael’s Madonna, which portrays the highest form of maternal love, but only as the artist saw it among Italian women.
Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” is not necessarily THE Madonna Pyle discussed, but she’ll have to do for now.
As with the Raphael, Pyle may have discussed another Madonna than the “Madonna del Magnificat” by Sandro Botticelli.
Mr. Pyle next had thrown on the screen a picture by Chavannes, “The Heavenly Vision,” in which the perspective was very faulty, not because the artist could not draw properly, but because his whole aim and thought had been centered on his dreamlike reflection of the heavenly vision. [I assume this refers to Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ “Vision Antique” - though I suppose it could be “L’Inspiration Chrétienne”]
A similar idea was shown in the pictures by Millet - “Procession of Joseph,” the “Ploughmen” and an effective and wonderful work entitled “Leaving England,” [sic - “The Last of England” by Ford Madox Brown ] on which the artist labored years to bring an acute sense of tragedy to the face.
I assume “The Procession of Joseph” is really “The Flight into Egypt” by Jean François Millet. It represents Joseph carrying the Christ child - with halo aglow - followed by Mary. There is a similar version, where Mary is carrying the baby and is sitting on a donkey led by Joseph, but I believe Pyle would have been more familiar with the version show here.
“The Last of England” by Ford Madox Brown
Millais’s “Ophelia” was another illustration used to show the extent to which the artist went to get just the right touch of a woman floating in the water.
“Ophelia” by John Everett Millais
Then Mr. Pyle spoke of the American school of artists of today. Placing Augustus St. Gaudens at the head of the list, he presented a picture of the head of “Victory” used on the Sherman statue to show that this was St. Gaudens’s conception of glorified American womanhood.
“Head of Victory” by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Pyle had a slide made from a plaster study which the sculptor had given him in 1902. Shown here is a replica of the bronze version.
George De Forest Brush’s power of accepting and digesting a side of American life was shown in a powerful picture of primitive life - “Indians Spearing a Deer.”
“Indians Spearing a Deer” is more likely “The Moose Chase” by George De Forest Brush
The position of Winslow Homer in the artistic world, Mr. Pyle said, was not fully settled, “but that he ranks among the greatest artists today cannot be disputed. His ‘Maine Coast’ is considered one of the finest sea scenes ever painted.”
“Maine Coast” by Winslow Homer
In this way Mr. Pyle tried to illustrate his theme, that to be a great artist the aspirant must not think solely of painting and drawing well - for then he will in time make a beautiful picture, but never a great one. To paint a great picture he must have a huge ideal which he is always trying to express in its most complete form as he sees it in his dreams.