Friday, April 15, 2011

Howard Pyle’s Civil War: “Malvern Hill”

“Malvern Hill” by Howard Pyle (1896)

A tailpiece by Howard Pyle for his Civil War story, “The Romance of an Ambrotype,” printed in Harper’s Monthly for December 1896. The halftone plate was retouched by an engraver and is quite small - just 4.8 x 1.2 inches. The original painting is in black, white, and red oil on illustration board, but has not yet come to light. Although it is untitled in the magazine, Pyle called it “Malvern Hill” when he exhibited it a few months later. It depicts a scene from the 1862 Virginia battle of the same name, and illustrates the following passage:
...The Sixth Regiment had been held in reserve, and was only marched down the slope to meet the last charge, made about six o'clock. As Curlett [the hero of the story] trotted at the head of his company down the hill he rather sensed than saw how everywhere was the scattered debris of battle, now so familiar to him - dead men, wounded men, caps, muskets, canteens, belts, knapsacks, and what not peppered everywhere along the slopes. Through this the regiment trotted at double-quick....

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