Besides PreRaphaelites, the Delaware Museum was hosting an exhibition of the great American illustrator, Howard Pyle, who taught N C Wyeth and a host of others. I’d seen some of these paintings on a previous trip at the Brandywine River Museum, to whose permanent collection they belong. However, there a great many I hadn’t seen, including wonderful ones rendered in black and white oils. The draftsmanship is superb. What a wonderful painter he was. I’m so drawn to illustration that I surely would have tried to become a professional illustrator if it was still in the publishing budget of periodicals and regular fiction. When I was growing up, I thought the ideal job would be to illustrate for National Geographic history articles. Photography has taken the place of illustration in magazines and no pictures at all has become the norm in fiction. Our imaginations are the poorer for it.
….but I was able to revel in the wonderful illustrations I saw a the Delaware Museum for an entire afternoon. Lucky me!
Before I get to Howard Pyle, I will post some of the non-PreRaphaelite works I saw. Get ready: there are a lot of pictures in this post!
This was the most impressive painting I saw at the exhibit, and it’s not famous enough for me ever to have seen it before. I’m sure the artist must have painted society portraits. This one is of his wife, who was an artist in her own right, an actress I think. It’s large and I was looking up at it when close. The texture and light of the fabric conveyed by the brushwork was amazing. I don’t remember the artist’s name; I should have been carrying a notebook or taking pictures of all the signage. You’d think I would have for this one.
Famous paintings generally reward the viewer, when they finally see the real thing and aren’t looking at an art book, with the conviction that they are deservedly beloved. However, it’s my continual experience that the paintings by extremely skilled artists I’ve never heard of before are the ones that I’m blown away by at museums. I’m often most affected by how a painter paints and what I like the most are paintings that convey a very convincing realism, but are not rendered in such a way that the brushstrokes disappear. I LOVE oil paint. I love to look at it. Even when there are stunning sculptures or watercolors in the room, my attention will go immediately to the rich, glorious color and brushwork of oil paintings. This one was so rewarding to look at. Didn’t matter who the subject was. The artist rendered her beautifully. I wanted to grab handful of that skirt fabric; you could feel the weight of it just by looking!
The above is a wonderful plaster sculpture. And now to Howard Pyle!
I think this is my favorite of all Howard Pyle’s illustrations — though that is a very hard thing to choose — because it is so romantic and the colors and costumes are so gorgeous. I’d love to know what the story is about. It reminds me of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek.
I read at the Museum that Howard Pyle made up the original Pirate Costume. He needed to illustrate Pirates, so he came up with a costume that was then adopted by Hollywood and a host of other illustrators. This is so deeply impressed in our consciousness that we can’t imagine a pirate looking any other way, unless they are very refined pirates, like Captain Blood.
Sorry that this one is a bit blurry, the fault of dim light and a wavering hand at the camera.
I actually don’t know the proper name for this one and, again, it’s a bit blurry, but I find these illustrations so rich and detailed to look at, like old photographs, but so much better.
Hey, but at least it’s not as blurry!
Besides Howard Pyle, there were a number of other illustrators. I like the one below particularly. It seems some callous wretch is about to abandon a woman in the mountains with her flat tire. Cad!
This is sort of awful, I think, but I totally get why they hung it.
Now, what kind of adventure would a boy go on with a flamingo! My mind’s a complete blank. They look serious though. Maybe a bird rescue mission. Oh! It’s from The Swiss Family Robinson! I don’t recognize it, because I haven’t read it. Misspent childhood.