Monday, March 22, 2010

March is Pyle's Month

Howard Pyle's birthday was on March 5th. He would have been 157 this year. While I had a clear idea to post a few things in his honor, I've happily been busy, with a couple of illustration jobs, work on the Walter Crane book, and a convention.

So let me get back to that, before we lose March-
Recently, I had hopes of expanding the book I put out on Howard Pyle back in 2006. When I first put that together, the primary goal was to make some of Pyle's work available to a market that had very little access to his imagery. It was a long, hard sell, and I needed help to convince Dover it was worth it. The book recently went into a second printing, and before it did I had hopes of adding more material to the original edition—but it didn't work out. The result is, I had gathered materials, that will very likely never be reprinted in their original format. So until the next print run, here are a few rarely seen pieces from smaller, less-likely to be noticed, Howard Pyle works.

First up were a few small books. The first is from 1892— Called Dorothy Q Together with A Ballad of the Boston Tea Party and Grandmother's Story of Bunker Hill. (They just don't write titles like that anymore...) These historical pieces were written by Oliver Wendall Holmes, (sr.) father of a very important justice of the supreme court in the first half of the 20th century. This charming little volume has scores of Pyle ink pieces, and a few wash pieces also. The second title is one of Pyle's own writing—The Price of Blood appeared in 1899. It has the look of a story originally published as magazine chapters, but I can't be sure at this time—I'll check on it—It has a three-color frontispiece, red, black, and yellow. The other small pieces (chapter-heads) are 2 color, red and black. Pyle was about to come into his heyday at this time, teaching, and soon to begin to work with a greatly improved method of color printing, which would finally allow him to reproduce paintings accurately. These two books—while nice examples of work at the time—are not likely to be appreciated by today's audiences, and will likely remain silent artifacts of the past century.


Working on this, and with a pointer from friend Scott Kraft, I found the blog of Ian Schoenherr. A fine illustrator in his own right, Schoenherr keeps up the family ways, and turns out an AMAZING blog on our buddy Howard Pyle. If Pyle's methods, details, and effects interest you, head on over and check out Ian's Howard Pyle blog. And many thanks to Ian for helping me straighten out some facts on this post!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thulstrup's Horses

What I have for you today is some real vintage imagery. There are several subjects in Golden Age material that get repeated thematically. I've made you aware that the sea is a theme I am especially fond of—another theme that surfaces in art of this age, not surprisingly, is horses. When you think of early horse painters, Frederick Remington is likely the first in mind, perhaps followed by Charles Russell. (I actually prefer Russell) But here is a name I stumble across frequently while covering the late 19th century, and his horses were amazing.

Thure de Thulstrup (1848-1930) was born into the higher end of Swedish society. His father, a high-ranking military official, gave him a solid education, though military-based. Thulstrup's serious interest in art (he also served in the Franco-Prussian War in the early 1870's) did not happen until later on—his earliest illustrative employment was with the New York Daily Graphic in 1876. A part of the Harper staff during the 1880's, he would have been there when Howard Pyle was getting much of his early work for Harper's. What remained with Thulstrup from his earlier life was an understanding of military subjects—what was important to a soldier, what details were necessary—and the guy could draw cavalry like few others at the time. He did apply this same technical understanding to the occasional maritime piece, but military, and battle scenes—especially containing horses, remained his speciality.