Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ox, Ox, Darley and Pyle

The great illustrator Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1821-1888) lived and worked in Delaware at the same time that Howard Pyle was coming of age and establishing a career in the same field. In fact, in the 1860s, Pyle and Darley both occupied houses on the Philadelphia Pike: the Pyle family’s “Evergreen(s)”, just north of Wilmington, sat within five miles of Darley’s “Wren’s Nest” in Claymont.

I have yet to find much else connecting them, however, apart from Pyle’s childhood fondness for “Darley’s outline drawings to Washington Irving’s stories” and some other scraps.

But here’s something: take a look at Pyle’s “Bringing the powder to Bunker Hill” engraved by John Tinkey for “The Gunpowder for Bunker Hill” by Ballard Smith (Harper's New Monthly Magazine, July 1886).

“Bringing the powder to Bunker Hill” by Howard Pyle (1886)

And now compare it to “Margaret annoyed by her Brother” engraved by Konrad Huber from Compositions in Outline by Felix O. C. Darley from Judd’s Margaret (New York: Redfield, 1856).

“Margaret annoyed by her Brother” by F. O. C. Darley (1856)

Call it an act of homage or appropriation or plagiarism, but, subtle differences aside, it’s clear that Pyle based his illustration on Darley’s. After all, it was much easier than rustling up a pair of oxen to draw from - though their proportions might have improved had Pyle observed them in person.


kev ferrara said...

Keen eye there, Ian.

I couldn't imagine remembering either picture, let alone both. Was it some fluke that led you to notice the clear similarity? Or do you actually find these pictures memorable?


Ian Schoenherr said...

A few years ago I picked up a copy of the Darley book and this image instantly jumped out at me.

And while Pyle’s picture isn’t particularly memorable, I guess I absorbed its general scheme over the years. My childhood library had a copy of Howard Pyle’s Book of the American spirit that I just kept renewing and renewing throughout high school.

Now I really should study the rest of this Darley book (and others) to see if Pyle appropriated anything else.

kev ferrara said...

That makes sense.

I was first introduced to Pyle through the Rowland Elzea Bantam/Peacock monograph and its contents are permanently embedded in my memory too.