|“Jack Frost’s Harvest” by Philip L. Hoyt in Harper’s Weekly for December 6, 1902|
In an article N. C. Wyeth wrote about Howard Pyle - published in the Christian Science Monitor one hundred years ago today - he discussed an unnamed Pyle student:
Mr. Pyle's inordinate ability as a teacher lay primarily in his sense of penetration; to read beneath the crude lines on paper the true purpose, to detect therein our real inclinations and impulses. In short, to unlock our personalities. This power was in no wise a superficial method handed out to those who would receive. We received in proportion to that which was fundamentally within us.This “ungainly lad” was Philip Langly Hoyt, born November 2, 1873, in Wentworth, New Hampshire, a few miles from the Vermont border. The son of a farmer, Hoyt studied with Pyle at the Drexel Institute, won a scholarship to the 1899 Summer School of Illustration at Chadds Ford, and was selected by Pyle to join the nucleus of his own art school when he founded it in 1900.
I recall an instance as an illustration. One member, an ungainly lad from the back country of northern New England, found his way into Pyle classes. He had dreamed, in his remote village, of becoming an artist; of picturing his visions of cities he had never seen, and of the lives of the people therein.
He had come into the composition class week after week, with sketches of society folk and kindred subjects. They were, naturally, unconvincing and poor, but Mr. Pyle’s interest in them did not flag. Meanwhile he assiduously gathered from the fellow accounts of his life in the woods, of breaking snow roads, of gathering maple sap, of log driving, of corn huskings, and a myriad things. It began to dawn upon the Vermonter that his own life at home, the incidents of his own north country which he knew and loved were interesting, yes, intensely interesting. His pictures at once gained in vitality and importance. With Mr. Pyle's trenchant help, he had found himself. I doubt if Howard Pyle ever had a student that did not at some time or other experience some such awakening as this while under his direction.
Hoyt seems to have taken fellow New Englander Wyeth under his wing when the latter arrived in Wilmington in 1902. In an error-ridden letter home, Wyeth wrote of him:
The fellow is a typical Yankee named Hoyt. He’s from Vermont [sic]. Perfect Habits. Shrewd and as economical as possible.Hoyt remained in Wilmington until about 1904 or so, when he moved to Boston. Eventually he abandoned illustration and although he may not have actually lived in Vermont prior to meeting Wyeth, Hoyt did wind up there later: on the 1930 Census he is listed as a construction contractor in Hartford in Windsor County. He died in Vermont at the age of 90 in March 1964.
I had to get an easle of course and Pyle could get a $25 one for 12.60. Hoyt says Don’t ye dew it! Make it. He made a slendid one for himself, lumber (hard pine), iron fixings and all cost four dollars or a little less. Now it’s quite a piece of mechanism and needs a cabinetmaker’s skill to make one so I bought his for five dollars and he’s making himself a new one making a few improvments (which is to his great delight).