Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cats, Witches, Pyle, and Holmes

And now here are two pen and inks that Howard Pyle made for “The Broomstick Train,” contained in the little leather volume, The One Hoss Shay, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in 1891.

The drawing above is titled “They called the cats” and the one below is “They came - at their master’s call.” Pyle’s letters show that he made these two in June or July 1891.

“I think these are about as successful pen and inks as I have ever done,” he said of his work on the book in a letter of July 2. And of the pictures for “The Broomstick Train” in particular, he wrote on July 7, “there may be very little to show in the way of result, but I really put a considerable deal of care and thought upon them.... I am myself inclined to think that they are, perhaps, in some respects, the best of the three lots.” The two other “lots” being the title poem and “How the Old Horse Won the Bet.” All exhibit the almost nervous, yet confident handling we see here - a far cry from his much “slower” ink drawings of the 1880s.

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