Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twelfth Night, 1906

In 1904 Howard Pyle became a member of the prestigious Century Association in New York. Late the following year, he was asked to design the invitation and program for the club’s traditional Twelfth Night celebration, to be held on January 6, 1906.

Pyle, out of his own enthusiasm, or a desire to impress his fellow members, turned what should have been a quick and casual job into a more ambitious task. “I am afraid you are taking the Twelfth Night drawing too seriously,” warned his friend, Frank Millet, the artist who later went down with the Titanic, who was coordinating the project:
The committee is very anxious to have something to send out with the notices which must be issued soon and they do not expect an elaborate work nor would they desire to give you much trouble about it.... Dr Curtis apparently dreams of something which in a few lines of the pencil will illustrate fully his description of the revels at Eagle-roost. But you can see from the old programs I sent you that elaboration is not necessary.
Millet wrote that on November 19, 1905, but I gather it was too late for Pyle to rein it in. The invitation (which was also issued in grey-blue wrappers) and the program were printed under his supervision by John M. Rogers on Orange Street (“opposite the Old Malt House,” reads the colophon) in Wilmington, Delaware. Rogers had, among other things, printed Pyle’s Catalogue of Drawings Illustrating the Life of Gen. Washington and of Colonial Life, The Ghost of Captain Brand, and The Divinity of Labor - all in 1897 - and The Constitution and By-Laws of the Howard Pyle School of Art in 1903.

I don’t know if Pyle - for all his work - attended the festivities (he had also decorated the menu/programme cover for the Franklin Inn Club’s dinner held the same evening).

I should note that Pyle did all the lettering seen here, except for the verse stanzas in “Centuria’s Call” and the portion of the paragraph beneath “The Programme of the Festival.” These were set in Fifteenth Century (later known as Calson Antique), which Pyle began to use almost as soon as it was cast by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler.

By the way, Dr. Edward Curtis, whom Millet mentioned above, helped autopsy the body of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

1 comment:

Max West said...

No wonder Pyle was considered part of the Golden Age of Illustrators - he was good with lettering and artwork.