Monday, February 21, 2011

Pyle, Lincoln, and Roosevelt

“Abraham Lincoln” by Howard Pyle (1907)

On this day 150 years ago - February 21, 1861 - President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Philadelphia en (circuitous) route to Washington, D.C.. After a 34-gun salute, he rode from the depot in an open barouche pulled by four white horses to the Continental Hotel as anywhere from 100,000 to a quarter of a million people cheered him on. Mrs. Margaret C. Pyle was one of the onlookers, having come up from Wilmington, Delaware, at the invitation of a friend.

Some 46 years later, Mrs. Pyle’s son Howard painted this illustration for “Lincoln’s Last Day” by William H. Crook (Harper’s Monthly Magazine, September 1907). During a visit to the studio, Mrs. Anna Roosevelt Cowles got to see the original oil on canvas, and Pyle reported to her younger brother, Theodore Roosevelt:
She appeared to be moved by the pathos of the image which I had attempted to depict, and I told her then that the inspiration of your tireless and energetic struggle for the benefit of a great people had had a large, if not a dominant, influence upon my presenting the picture of your great fellow-president.

You also will always be remembered as one who has given the best efforts of his life to the combatting of a gigantic evil and for the preservation of the best interests, and the enlargement of the future happiness of his fellow men.
The painting was subsequently sold in Chicago - possibly at an exhibition of Pyle’s works at Marshall Field & Company in December 1909 - and hasn’t been seen in public since then.


kev ferrara said...

I get a sense that this is/was a much more powerful and moving painting than the old timey reproduction gives it credit for.

Ian Schoenherr said...

I agree - and I hope the original turns up one of these days - I think it was last exhibited in public over 100 years ago.