Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Typical Yankee Named Hoyt

“Jack Frost’s Harvest” by Philip L. Hoyt in Harper’s Weekly for December 6, 1902

In an article N. C. Wyeth wrote about Howard Pyle - published in the Christian Science Monitor one hundred years ago today - he discussed an unnamed Pyle student:
Mr. Pyle's inordinate ability as a teacher lay primarily in his sense of penetration; to read beneath the crude lines on paper the true purpose, to detect therein our real inclinations and impulses. In short, to unlock our personalities. This power was in no wise a superficial method handed out to those who would receive. We received in proportion to that which was fundamentally within us.

I recall an instance as an illustration. One member, an ungainly lad from the back country of northern New England, found his way into Pyle classes. He had dreamed, in his remote village, of becoming an artist; of picturing his visions of cities he had never seen, and of the lives of the people therein.

He had come into the composition class week after week, with sketches of society folk and kindred subjects. They were, naturally, unconvincing and poor, but Mr. Pyle’s interest in them did not flag. Meanwhile he assiduously gathered from the fellow accounts of his life in the woods, of breaking snow roads, of gathering maple sap, of log driving, of corn huskings, and a myriad things. It began to dawn upon the Vermonter that his own life at home, the incidents of his own north country which he knew and loved were interesting, yes, intensely interesting. His pictures at once gained in vitality and importance. With Mr. Pyle's trenchant help, he had found himself. I doubt if Howard Pyle ever had a student that did not at some time or other experience some such awakening as this while under his direction.
This “ungainly lad” was Philip Langly Hoyt, born November 2, 1873, in Wentworth, New Hampshire, a few miles from the Vermont border. The son of a farmer, Hoyt studied with Pyle at the Drexel Institute, won a scholarship to the 1899 Summer School of Illustration at Chadds Ford, and was selected by Pyle to join the nucleus of his own art school when he founded it in 1900.

Hoyt seems to have taken fellow New Englander Wyeth under his wing when the latter arrived in Wilmington in 1902. In an error-ridden letter home, Wyeth wrote of him:
The fellow is a typical Yankee named Hoyt. He’s from Vermont [sic]. Perfect Habits. Shrewd and as economical as possible.

I had to get an easle of course and Pyle could get a $25 one for 12.60. Hoyt says Don’t ye dew it! Make it. He made a slendid one for himself, lumber (hard pine), iron fixings and all cost four dollars or a little less. Now it’s quite a piece of mechanism and needs a cabinetmaker’s skill to make one so I bought his for five dollars and he’s making himself a new one making a few improvments (which is to his great delight).
Hoyt remained in Wilmington until about 1904 or so, when he moved to Boston. Eventually he abandoned illustration and although he may not have actually lived in Vermont prior to meeting Wyeth, Hoyt did wind up there later: on the 1930 Census he is listed as a construction contractor in Hartford in Windsor County. He died in Vermont at the age of 90 in March 1964.

Photograph taken in Chadds Ford, PA, showing Pyle and his students seeing off Philip Hoyt, on or about September 1, 1899, at the close of the second Summer School of Illustration. From left to right: Robert L. Mason, Emlem McConnell, Frank Schoonover, Howard Pyle, Annie Hailey, Sarah Stilwell, Ellen Bernard Thompson, Anna Whelan Betts, Stanley Arthurs, Philip Hoyt (in straw boater), Bertha Corson Day.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems like Hoyt met Charlie Russell, Joe DeYong and was a friend of Philip Goodwin over the years.

Your letter was duly forwarded and I am much interested to know you are a friend of the Russells and also to learn about old Hoyt. .Hoyt used to be in Pyles school and he had talent of a sort, but could never seem to learn to draw. If it were not for his crudeness in drawing he might have been able to stay in the game. He was always an odd fellow, but one who generally stuck by his friends. I used to like him in spite of his being so odd.

Tell Hoyt I should be pleased to hear from him sometime and that I am still using his palette.

Hoyt showed up here a year ago last June. He bought an old house in this town and fixed it up for his mother and sisters. He has been here off and on ever since. He seems restless however and I would not be surprised if he pulled out for Montana next spring.
We have been walking together a good deal on Sundays in the woods around here. He is the same old, Hoyt, as eccentric as ever, but with many good traits of character. He does not keep a job long, but is always changing.

Hoyt don't care much for the salt water. I wanted to take him out for a swim several times but as he did not want to invest in a bathing suit I gave him up. (From a series of Philip Goodwin Letters to Joe Deyong)

A friend of yours Joe DeYong wrote me, and I answered several of his letters, seems like a nice fellow. I owe him a letter at present but will write when I get around to it.
An old friend named Hoyt knows DeYong and I believe called on Chas. blew in last summer. I had not seen him for 12 years. He is an odd guy. He bought an old house here and fixed it up for his mother & sisters to live in. (Goodwin letter to Charlie Russell)

Ian Schoenherr said...

What great details. Can you tell more about the dates of the letters - and where they were written - if only to help with the timeline of Hoyt's life?

On the Schoonover Studios site Hoyt and Goodwin appear in the same photo, taken, I'd guess, in mid-1901 on the lawn in front of Pyle's Wilmington studio porch...

http://www.schoonoverstudios.com/history/pyle-student-historical-photos.html

Goodwin's on the far left. Hoyt is wearing the cap and striped shirt, dead center. (Hoyt also appears on the far left of that much better known photo of Pyle and his students picnicking in 1899.)

Anonymous said...

In 1919 DeYong was working in Charlie Russell’s studio in Great Falls and wrote to Goodwin with questions about the “how to’s” of professional illustration and outdoor living. DeYong’s inquiries generated some interesting letters, providing valuable first-hand insight to Goodwin's painting techniques, knowledge of camping gear and his activities in general during this period of time From Goodwin’s letters, we learn some more about his techniques and thoughts on outdoor products: Letters from Philip Goodwin to Joe DeYong, dated in 1919. Joe DeYong Personal Papers, from the Collection of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City, OK.

Helen E. and Homer E. Britzman Collection, Taylor Museum for Southwestern Studies, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, Reference No. C.12.25. Now, I believe in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX. An Illustrated letter from Philip R. Goodwin, at his studio in Mamaroneck, N.Y., to Chas and Mrs. Russell, dated December 16, 1919, with 5"x4" sketch of a moose in profile in the Canadian woods, signed "(G)", to Charlie and Nancy Russell describing Goodwin’s visit to Quebec that summer. He had been sailing his canoe and was busy with advertising and calendar work.