Monday, April 30, 2012

Pyle Drives a Hard Bargain

“Cap’n Goldsack” by Howard Pyle (1902)

Henry Edward Rood, an assistant editor at Harper’s Monthly, got to see Howard Pyle’s original illustration for “Cap’n Goldsack” a few months before it was published in the July 1902 issue of the magazine. He wanted to buy it. Pyle wrote him on April 30, 1902:
I feel very much complimented that you should like “Captain Goldsack” and shall be very pleased for you to have it. Do you think that $75.00 is more than you care to give for it? If so I shall be glad for you to mention what you think would be sufficient value.
Pyle drives a hard bargain, doesn’t he? I don’t know if Rood accepted the offer - but I sure would.

The painting has yet to turn up: it was last seen at the Art Institute of Chicago in December 1903. It illustrated a poem of the same name by William Sharp:

Down in the yellow bay where the scows are sleeping,
Where among the dead men the sharks flit to and fro -
There Cap’n Goldsack goes, creeping, creeping, creeping.
Looking for his treasure down below!

Yeo, yeo, heave-a-yeo!
Creeping, creeping, creeping down below -
Yo! ho!

Down among the tangleweed where the dead are leaking
With the ebb an’ flow o’ water through their ribs an’ hollow bones,
Isaac Goldsack stoops alow, seeking, seeking, seeking.
What's he seeking there amidst a lot o’ dead men’s bones?

Yeo, yeo, heave-a-yeo!
Seeking, seeking, seeking down below -
Yo! ho!

Twice a hundred year an’ more are gone acrost the bay,
Down acrost the yellow bay where the dead are sleeping:
But Cap’n Goldsack gropes an’ gropes from year- long day to day —
Cap’n Goldsack gropes below, creeping, creeping, creeping:

Yeo, yeo, heave-a-yeo!
Creeping, creeping, creeping down below -
Yo! ho!


kev ferrara said...

A classic mystical Pyle picture... A fairly creepy poem too, thanks for dredging that up! Lots of images called up by it to stir the mind.

Is it known if this was piece was done in color? Might be pretty wild if it was, though my sense is, for some reason, that this was painted in black and white originally.


Ian Schoenherr said...

It's listed as "in part color" in the 1903 AIC catalog - so it was, I guess, in black and white and probably pale green oil. I say "probably" because that's the color used in the magazine (and which is difficult to see in my scan).