Monday, January 23, 2012

“Mr. Leuba”

“Mr. Leuba” by Howard Pyle (1890)
Poor “Mr. Leuba” - he didn’t go far. He appeared in James Lane Allen’s “Flute and Violin” in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine for December 1890, but when the Howard Pyle-illustrated story came out in book form the following May, he was nowhere to be seen.

Well, not exactly. In one of the other illustrations - “It was a very gay dinner” - which did appear in both the magazine and the book, Mr. Leuba is seated in the background - with almost exactly the same pose and expression as in his “portrait”...

“It was a very gay dinner” by Howard Pyle (1890)

 The scan of “Mr. Leuba” was made from Pyle’s original ink on bristol board - 2 3/8 x 2 1/2" on a 7 1/4 x 8 15/16" sheet - and it’s possible to see some pencil marks where he loosely sketched in his drawing and how he scratched out the highlights in Leuba’s eyes.

“I think it a very capital story and am sure it will be a pleasant one to illustrate,” Pyle had said after reading the manuscript. But he ran into trouble. “Slight as the drawings are, I have had very ill-luck with them, having done most of them over once or twice, if not more times,” he wrote on June 7, 1890. “I would like to make the ultimate result as satisfactory as possible.”

The nervous pen-work is typical of Pyle’s transitional period, when he broke away from the slower, controlled style of The Wonder Clock (1887) and Otto of the Silver Hand (1888) and adopted the more scratchy method seen in The One Hoss Shay (1891).

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