Friday, June 24, 2011

Stamford’s Soprano

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).

1 comment:

Ray Hester (Retired, Murrells Inlet, SC) said...

I was very excited to find your comparison of these two drawings ("oxen / wagon).

I have studied Darley for years now; my wife and I owned (saved) his home / studio (1859-1888) in Delaware and lived there from 1991 until 2004.

We read that Pyle was "influenced" by Darley .. not style, but his success as an illustrator. Your comparison proves that the influence was more than just Pyle's interest in Darley as the first major America illustrator ... who left the publishing "capitals" of Philadelphia and New York, moving to the countryside of Claymont Delaware where he did some of his most famous works.

I truly like Pyle and his work ... and don't mean to try to diminish his work in any way, but it is nice to know that he had THIS interest in Darley's work.

I wonder if you have ever heard from the "Pyle authorities" on this use of Darley's work by Pyle? (authorities: Brandywine River and Delaware Art Museums being the major ones)? Thanks.