Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3, 1878

Referring to this picture, Howard Pyle wrote to his mother on November 3, 1878:
The composition class at the [Art Students’] League still occupies much of my attention. The subject last week was “Zekle’s Courtship.” I did not make a composition myself, however, as I was quite busy last week working on a design “The Interior of a Fishing Shanty,” which took me all week, cost me something for models, and at which I did not make a princely fortune. Mr. [Charles] Parsons liked it, however, and that was some satisfaction.
It was published as “Interior of a Fishing Station” in the following June’s issue of Harper’s Monthly, and it illustrated Part II of his article, “A Peninsular Canaan,” born out of travels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore the previous summer.


kev ferrara said...

So glad you're posting up some more Pyle. Love this stuff.

Not sure if you specified, but are you saying Pyle was enrolled at the ASL in a composition class as a student in 1878? I don't think I've heard that before. If so, who is the teacher(s)?

Much obliged.

Ian Schoenherr said...

Pyle was enrolled way before that - in a December 4, 1876, letter he said, “In the evening I drew a pen-and-ink sketch for a subject that was given out for composition at the Art League. It was “Despair,” which I illustrated by representing an old lawyer who had just upset the ink on his desk papers. It is one of the best, if not THE best, I have ever done, quickly as it was made.”

The ASL instructor then was Lemuel Wilmarth (called "Mr. Wilmot" in Pyle's letters) - but I need to double check if he headed the compo. classes as well as the life classes. I assume he did.

In October 1877 Wilmarth was replaced as instructor by Walter Shirlaw, of whom Pyle said in November 1878, “His criticisms and hints have been of the greatest use to me, and upon the whole, I look upon Shirlaw with more respect probably than upon any man in New York.”

Pyle appears on Shirlaw's ASL compo. class lists of October 1879, too, but by then he had already moved (or was about to move) back to Wilmington.

kev ferrara said...

Thanks for the info, Ian.

I now see that the Howard Pyle: The Artist and Legacy book does say that Pyle's study with Wilmarth was in an ASL life class starting in 1876. (Pyle also attends an informal sketch-from-the-model class starting that year). But the book only indicates that Pyle began a composition class at ASL in 1878, without indicating the instructor. Your December 1876 letter is obviously the better resource.

Shirlaw uses some compositional techniques which remind me of Pyle.

Best wishes,