Friday, June 24, 2011
In the early 1890s, when Howard Pyle was very much under the literary spell of his friend W. D. Howells, he wrote a handful of “realist” stories set in contemporary America. “Stamford’s Soprano” was one. It came out in Harper's Weekly for June 24, 1893, with the untitled illustration shown here. The original painting - I assume black and white oil on board - is still somewhere in the ether.
Interestingly, Howells wrote to Pyle: “Stamford’s Soprano is very neat and fine; but I like your psychical things best; not that I think you oughtn’t to do all the kinds you like; all you do pleases me.”
Skipping ahead to November 12, 2014...
Since posting this, the original painting has surfaced and is set to be sold by Heritage Auctions in New York on November 17, 2014. The oil on canvas laid on board measures 19 1/8 x 13 7/8 inches (48.6 x 35.2 cm) and is, of course, “a damned fine thing” (as Vincent Van Gogh might say).