NMAI Slideshow
twitter facebook facebook
Artists Artists






1853 - 1911
Photo: The Society of Illustrators
Howard Pyle: American Imagist

Pyle painting hangingHoward Pyle has long been considered ‘The Father of American Illustration,’ as much for his prolific and superb work as a writer and illustrator as for his commitment to teaching. In the 1890s, Pyle was well established as an illustrator and turned his mind to teaching others. He founded the first School of Illustration in the nation at Drexel Institute (1894) in Philadelphia. In the same year he published 99 illustrations which brought him substantial fees, yet he never accepted money for his teaching. Many of the greatest illustrators attended his classes at Drexel, later at the Howard Pyle School of Art (1900-1905) in Wilmington, Delaware, and in the summers at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Pyle’s school in Wilmington made Philadelphia the center of illustration. The Delaware Museum of Art was founded to house his art works. Pyle had about two hundred students during his teaching career of whom more than eighty were well known and successful, and two dozen who were very famous. The students and their students became known as ‘The Brandywine School’. Some of the best known included Stanley Arthurs, Clifford Ashley, William Aylward, Arthur Becher, Anna Whelan Betts, Ethel Franklin Betts, Harvey Dunn, Anton Otto Fischer, Philip R. Goodwin, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Gayle Hoskins, Oliver Kemp, W.H.D. Koerner, Violet Oakley, Maxfield Parrish, Ernest Peixotto, Frank Schoonover, Jessie Willcox Smith, Henry J. Soulen, Sarah Stilwell Weber, C. Leslie Thrasher, and N.C. Wyeth. A most extraordinary and little known fact was that Pyle’s classes were fifty percent female students-an unheard of proportion in those days.

Pyle was born into a Quaker family from Delaware and he lived his whole life there except for two years at the Art Students League early in his career and one year at its end in Italy, where he died in 1911. His family was not unhappy when he expressed an interest in studying art although such a thought was not on a Quaker agenda. His first art teacher was Van der Weilen at the Art Students League. He expected to gain an education as an easel painter for there was no specific education for illustrators. Like most of his students, Pyle went into illustration to earn a living at his craft. While in NYC studying, he was able to obtain small commissions illustrating for Century Magazine. Other commissions flowed from his initial projects including: Collier’s, Everybody’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly, Harper’s Monthly, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, McClure’s Magazine, Scribner’s, Wide Awake, and St. Nicholas magazines. In 1879, Pyle returned to Delaware and produced a number of books, which he both wrote and illustrated, including Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates, The Story of King Arthur and his Knights, Men of Iron, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, for other publishers such as Riverside Press, The Bibliophile Society, Century, Little Brown and Company, Scribner’s, and Houghton Mifflin, Co.

Pyle excelled in pen and ink, watercolors, oils, pencil and charcoal equally well. From his experiences as an art student, he realized that there was no training which taught a young artist the difference between a cover illustration and an interior image. The application of masthead lettering to an image took certain finesse and design ability, which was more than an easel artist’s training. There was a great need arising to train illustrators with the advent of better publishing technologies.

Pyle recommended that his pupils look to their own country and their own lives for inspiration. He asked the students to train themselves hard, spiritually and artistically, to experience the environments they wished to replicate and to use authentic props in their paintings to enhance images.

While his most familiar works remain the images of rakish pirates, tough cowboys and noble knights populating children’s adventure novels, they are the paradigms, prototypes, and stereotypes that will forever remain our models. Pyle painting hanging

Howard Pyle was born in 1853, at the most propitious time for an illustrator of great genius. It was a time comparable to Michelangelo’s birth with its respective coincidence of the Renaissance and Medici rule of power. When Pyle was born, the American public was getting interested in knowledge, in establishing our own cultural icons, and our civilization had begun to flower. A young Quaker artist understood that the new magazines and progress in printing technologies meant that a need for more images was looming ahead with the ability to satisfy the public’s thirst.

During his career, Howard Pyle produced illustrations for nearly 3,500 publications and about half of those images illustrated books and articles he authored - 200 magazine articles and 19 books.




Mission

  • Edwin Austin Abbey
  • Constantin Alajalov
  • Rolf Armstrong
  • Stanley Arthurs
  • Clifford Ashley
  • John Atherton
  • William Aylward
  • Joyce Ballantyne
  • McClelland Barclay
  • Cecil Calvert Beall
  • Arthur Becher
  • Mary Jane Begin
  • WT Benda
  • Gerrit Beneker
  • Anna Whelan Betts
  • Ethel Franklin Betts
  • Walter Biggs
  • Edwin Blashfield
  • Enoch Bolles
  • Franklin Booth
  • S Cole Bradley
  • Paul Bransom
  • F Sands Brunner
  • Duane Bryers
  • Al Buell
  • Edward Ulreich Buk
  • Charles Livingston Bull
  • Clara M Burd
  • Hal Burrows
  • Harrison Cady
  • Howard Chandler Christy
  • Frederick Stuart Church
  • Benton Clark
  • Matt Clark
  • John Clymer
  • Dean Cornwell
  • Douglas Crockwell
  • George Hughes
  • Peter Hurd
  • EO Hurst
  • Henry Hutt
  • Elbert McGran Jackson
  • Robert C Kauffman
  • JF Kernan
  • Rockwell Kent
  • WHD Koerner
  • John LaFarge
  • John LaGatta
  • FX Leyendecker
  • JC Leyendecker
  • Henry Linnell
  • George Luks
  • Reginald Marsh
  • Richard Field Maynard
  • Frederic Kimball Mizen
  • Thomas Moran
  • Rudy Nappi
  • Thomas Nast
  • Thornton Oakley
  • Violet Oakley
  • Cushman Parker
  • Maxfield Parrish
  • Edward Penfield
  • George Petty
  • Coles Phillips
  • Henry Pitz
  • Edward Potthast
  • Maurice Prendergast
  • Norman Price
  • Howard Pyle
  • Ethel Ream
  • Sidney Reisenberg
  • Frederick Remington
  • Louis Rhead
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Alex Ross
  • Charles M Russell
  • Russell Sambrook
  • Mead Schaeffer
  • Jes Schlaikjer
  • Frank E Schoonover
  • Remington Schuyler
  • Barbara Shermund
  • Everret Shinn
  • John Sloan
  • Jessie Willcox Smith
  • Walter Granville Smith
  • Henry J Soulen
  • Paul Stahr
  • Alice Barber Stephens
  • Herbert Morton Stoops
  • Haddon Sundblom
  • Saul Tepper
  • Leslie Thrasher
  • George T Tobin
  • Alton Tobey
  • Rico Tomaso
  • Charles Twelvetrees
  • Alberto Vargas
  • Elihu Vedder
  • Harold von Schmidt
  • Colonel Charles Waterhouse
  • Thomas Webb
  • Sarah Stilwell Weber
  • Albert Beck Wenzell
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Jamie Wyeth
  • NC Wyeth