Thursday, February 23, 2012

Howard Pyle on Augustus Saint-Gaudens

As early as 1880, Augustus Saint-Gaudens sought the 27-year-old Howard Pyle’s advice on the proper costume for his statue of Robert Richard Randall...

Years later, in a letter of February 23, 1898, to Saint-Gaudens’ wife, Augusta, Pyle said:
Indeed, my dear madam, you greatly magnify my work by comparing it as you do with that of Mr Saint Gaudens. I do - I believe - the best that I am able, but I am very conscious that my best falls far, far short of his.
But I’ve always felt that that the Saimt-Gaudens’ work was, in many ways, the three-dimensional embodiment of Pyle’s. Apart from attention to historical details, etc., they share a certain “solidity of form”, for want of a better description.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Howells on Pyle on Art

This little exchange between W. D. Howells and his (unnamed) friend Howard Pyle appeared in Howells’ “Life and Letters” column in Harper’s Weekly for March 21, 1896, and was reprinted with the title “The What and the How in Art” in Howells’ book Literature and Life (Harper & Brothers, 1902):
Not long ago I was talking about pictures with a painter, a very great painter, to my thinking; one whose pieces give me the same feeling I have from reading poetry; and I was excusing myself to him with respect to art, and perhaps putting on a little more modesty than I felt. I said that I could enjoy pictures only on the literary side, and could get no answer from my soul to those excellences of handling and execution which seemed chiefly to interest painters. He replied that it was a confession of weakness in a painter if he appealed merely or mainly to technical knowledge in the spectator; that he narrowed his field and dwarfed his work by it; and that if he painted for painters merely, or for the connoisseurs of painting, he was denying his office, which was to say something clear and appreciable to all sorts of men in the terms of art. He even insisted that a picture ought to tell a story.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pyle on Dickens

“I do not mean to belittle Dickens but do you not think that the self-sacrifice of the hero in - Little Doret [sic] is it - is just a little cheap and tawdry? Do you not think that ‘Little Nell’ is just a trifle over-sentimental?”
Howard Pyle to Frank W. Hoyt, February 27, 1892

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ye Pirate Bold (and Bloody Expensive)

On September 13, 1903, Howard Pyle jotted down this drawing in a little notebook belonging to his student Thornton Oakley. Some years later, when Merle Johnson was compiling Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates, Oakley allowed it to be reproduced.

Today, this 5.75 x 3.25" scrap was auctioned off at Freeman’s in Philadelphia. And as a testament to the enduring allure of Pyle’s pirates, it sold - with buyer’s premium - for $20,000!

Insert your favorite piratical expression of shock here.

Yes, Mr. Pyle, but...

“After all, it is the result of my words that will tell, and not the words themselves. If I may help and inspire young artists with an exalted idea of their mission, and if an improvement of their work is the result, then I shall have served my mission, and it will not matter in the least whether my words are recorded or not recorded.”
Howard Pyle to Marie-Marguerite Frechette, February 2, 1905.