Wednesday, November 18, 2009

133 Years Ago Today

Another extract from a letter Howard Pyle wrote to his mother (whom he addresses in the Quaker style) on November 18, 1876:
…Thee strongly advised me in thy letter to stick to illustrating as my particular branch. I think thee is mistaken and that by all means a literary life is the proper one for me. Thee has not much confidence in my ability as a writer, nor have I much in myself, for I have not really turned my attention to it until within the past six months. But one thing I can say and that is that where there are hundreds - thousands - of artists who can do infinitely better and more creditable work than I can and succeed in their profession while the market is overstocked with pictures, I have not met anyone as young in years or letters as I am who has succeeded better or even as well as I have. I may make many failures at first and probably will, but it’s in me and shall come out…
It's interesting to note that Pyle felt his chances for success were stronger as writer than as an artist. Granted, his early illustrations were often crude and clumsy, so I can understand his lack of confidence. But as his reminiscences of 1870's New York tend to dwell on "art life," I often forget that - at age 23, at least - Pyle saw himself as a writer first.


Brian said...

do you have any examples of his "crude" illustrations? I would love to see some of his early work.

Ian Schoenherr said...

By all means - I'll scan a few and append them.