Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Pyle Student's Letter Home, Part 2

A transcription of Henry J. Peck's letter to his family:

Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 8. 1901

Dear Father + Mother, Sister + Brother:

Now of course it’s up to me to tell you all about it so here goes.

In the first place you doubtless want to know my impressions of Mr. Pyle.

I had pictured him as rather short or medium height, and imagine my surprise when he loomed up before me 6 ft. and 2 in. His head is not unlike my mental picture; being innocent of all hair except some (gray) on the back + over the ears.

He has a very strong and kindly face, + is extremely cordial, informal + simple in manner, + treats his pupils in more of a fatherly way than anything else.

The accomp. sketch gives some what the idea of the studios but very imperfectly. The one in the rear on the right is Mr. Pyle’s + has been built 19 years. The other was built at a cost of $8,000 a year or two ago for his pupils + has 3 large studios with fire-places. They are furnished by the pupils with old chairs, desks, clocks etc and are very nice indeed.

The front studio is occupied by [Samuel M.] Palmer, [Philip R.] Goodwin, [Francis] Newton + [Walter] Whitehead.

The middle one by Becker [Arthur E. Becher] + [William J.] Aylward (of Milwaukee) [Ernest J.] Cross (California), [Clifford W.] Ashley, [Gordon M.] McCouch (“McCooch”) + myself.

The rear studio Miss Ethel Franklin Betts and Dorothy Warren (13) have all to themselves.

Frank Schoonover, Stanley Arthurs + [James E.] McBurney have a studio down town where they do their illustrating work. They have been under Mr. Pyle + he of course is still interested in them + they go to the studios for sketch class, comp. etc.

I never before saw a collection of so many nice fellows. Even McCouch, altho’ he is young + sometimes obstreporous is very good-natured.

It seems funny to have to draw casts and it seems strange to draw heads + figures from imagination. No model, except for Sat. sketch class.

Mr. Pyle’s idea seems to be to stimulate the imagination. That is the principal thing.

However it is a little early in the game to say much about it.

The Composition Class meets tomorrow evening.

We get up to the studio about 8 or 8.15.

Mr. Pyle comes in + criticizes, the students following him around from one student’s work to another, so getting all the criticisms.

He comes in again about 12. He gives the students about 3 hrs. a day I should say. He has one model whom he uses for about everything, + has used him about 20 yrs. His name is [John] Weller.

A good many of Mr. Pyle’s drawings are hanging around on the walls.

Friday evening by invitation Ashley + I went up to Mr. Pyle’s house on Broom St. Large house, old furniture.

Mrs. Pyle is very nice indeed. Rather small than otherwise. Of little Pyles there are six. Miss Phebe, 14 and the oldest, Eleanor, Theodore, Howard, Wilfred + Godfrey. Miss Betts and Dorothy also live there. We had a very pleasant evening, popped corn, + looked at some old proofs of Mr. Pyle’s drawings.

Ashley + I occupy the top floor at 907 Adams St. My room tho’ rather small is all right. $6.00 per mo. Most of the fellows eat at Mrs. [Anna] Pyle’s (no relation to Howard) across the St. at 906. $4.00 week.

Very good grub. Living costs me about same as in Boston as I paid more for room + less for grub. Its good grub here + regular hours of course. A solemn colored boy named [James? Jonas?] waits upon us. There are 10 fellows at the table, all Mr. Pyle’s pupils but one.

I’m afraid Mr. [Eric] Pape would not approve of Mr. Pyle’s method of instructing without models. As I know how to draw comparatively well, if I can get hold of Mr. Pyle’s teachings it ought to be a good thing for me.

Wilmington I like very well indeed. It is an old town, built of brick with brick paved streets, which seem quite home-like. About 60000 people, 20000 of whom are colored so I hear. It is slightly hilly in parts + altogether has an air of an old southern town which is very pleasant to me.

I went to service at Trinity Church this morning, 2 blocks from here. A commodious stone church. Vested choir. Good sized congregation. Rev. Mr. Henry. He came running down + greeted me before I had been there a minute, took my address, + asked me to come right along to services. Also when I was going out a Warden called me by name + shook hands with me with pleasant remarks.

I understand there are 8 or 9 other Episcopal churches here.

It was rough on the Sound Tuesday night. The boat rolled + rolled, + groaned and creaked like anything. I had a state-room. In New York I visited with Keen + Harry Cole awhile. The latter is connected with a law office in the highest building in N.Y. or in the world I suppose (of its kind). We went up 26 stories to admire the view. [Peck may have been referring to the Park Row Building]

At the Household I learned that a check had been sent to Boston for me the night before.

I received it 2 days ago. I thought it was for the full am’t. imagine my disappointment when it proved to be $19.00 only. Glad to get that much though. I suppose I’ll get the rest some time. Also got a bill for taxes from Boston. I suppose I won’t have to do anything about that will I now that I do not live there any more.

I had to pay $5.00 for studio rent for Oct. and Nov. and will have to pay $5 a mo. from now on.

Has business begun to be rushing yet. I was in a crockery store last night and it made me think of old times.

How is Margaret progressing at school. Marion Bowen told me that Marg. played Basket Ball.

I had another letter from Grandma a couple of weeks ago.

Give my love to Lucie. How is she?



1 comment:

Unknown said...

That was smart of you to post this letter - you really learn a lot about Pyle's teaching methods. I see him as the original "method" actor - feel the part - so I was not that surprised to read here that he didn't want his students to rely too much on the model.