Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Howard Pyle’s Sketch Club

On November 24, 1902, Allen Tupper True wrote home to his father:
…Mr. Pyle’s latest innovation is a “Sketch Club” to meet once a week when we and he can get together around a long table in his studio for a “stag” evening. The event of the evening is to be an impromptu pen and ink composition the subject for which will be assigned just before commencing. Mr. Pyle is to sketch too and his idea seems to be that he shall be one of a jolly crowd for one evening a week. We will have beer, ginger ale and good tobacco which in this case do not mean as coarse as an affair as you might think.…
Pyle’s “innovation” was something he resurrected from his time in New York in the late 1870s - from the Salmagundi Sketch Club, in particular.

The compositional subject was just a word or phrase - “Idiocy,” “The End,” “The Conquerer,” “The Challenge” - and after it was assigned (or, perhaps, drawn from a hat, etc.) the artists would draw and eat and drink and talk and smoke.

Just imagine the groups that assembled each week or so in 1902-03: N. C. Wyeth, William J. Aylward, Philip R. Goodwin, Arthur Becher, George Harding, Allen True, Clifford Ashley, Henry Peck, Thornton Oakley, et al.... And the artist whose impromptu creation was deemed best would go home with Howard Pyle’s drawing.

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