Friday, June 1, 2012

Taking Pyle for Granted?

It seems strange to me that all these years people have apparently taken Howard Pyle for granted, and yet scarcely written a word about him as one of the biggest men of his calibre, or of any calibre, that we have in this country.
 So said Homer Saint-Gaudens, son of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, on June 1, 1911. He was addressing Robert Underwood Johnson, then editor of The Century Magazine. “So I thought that I would start on a pilgrimage to find whether or no some magazine would not care for an article upon him by me, and I am beginning with you,” Saint-Gaudens added.

Johnson didn’t take the bait. Nor - as far as I can tell - did any other editor. Granted, Pyle wasn’t particularly newsworthy at that time, but I wonder if there wasn’t a subtle prejudice against him. Sometimes I think he wasn’t European enough for America - or at least for the American taste-makers.


Nate said...

Do you think we're in a period of renewed appreciation for Pyle? To me, there seems to be a lot of coverage of him these days and frequent reference to his important position in American Illustration, but that could just be because I've begun paying more attention.

Ian Schoenherr said...

I think so. He's still somewhat marginalized as "just an illustrator" and the tiresome "but is it art?" hand-wringing about his work will probably never go away. But the 100th anniversary of his death and the accompanying exhibits - among other things - have helped raise his profile.