Sunday, September 19, 2010
Raise a glass, you scurvy dog.
You probably didn't know that today (OK, yesterday...)is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It is, look it up, I'll wait.
OK, I'll use this occasion to do two things. First, to herald the start of Pirate Season, which runs (in my house) from Talk-Like-a-Pirate day until Halloween. Second, let's take a look at the pirate in Golden Age illustration. (Cue groans from FIT MA alums). Though I've managed to shy away from the topic in almost all my previous VIEW blog posts, it is well-known here in the NY area, that I have a strong interest in the imagery of the Pirate, and that in fact, it was the topic of my Master's Thesis.
OK, so it's ITLAPD, no reason to hold back—
Five of my favorite Golden Age Pirate illustrators, and why-
5. Frank Schoonover (1877-1972), If N. C. Wyeth was Pyle's "best" student, Schoonover was a close second, and probably closer to Pyle. Schoonover kicked out some very respectable, gutsy pirate pieces, including a great story on Jean Lefitte, a figure rarely visited in the genre. This (top image) is my favorite image of Blackbeard.
4. Dean Cornwell 1892-1960. Had a real interesting feel for the subject, with an uncanny sense of outdoor light on deck. Cornwell was a student of Harvey Dunn, Brandywine alum, making him a second generation Pyle student.
3. N. C. Wyeth 1882-1945. Pyle's prize student, he created masterworks for Treasure Island and Kidnapped. Though he did do a handful of other pirate pieces in his career, I don't see the subject as one that interested him more than any others; he was good at them all.
2. Norman Price 1877-1951. After Pyle's passing, and with Wyeth in incredible demand, the job of top pirate illustrator might have been split between Schoonover and Norman Price. Though almost any Brandywine student was capable of pulling off a good pirate piece, Price (who was not a Brandywine alum) came repeatedly to the subject, including many illustrated editions of Robert Chambers' pirate tales throughout the 20's, and did a nice Treasure Island as well.
1. Howard Pyle 1856-1911. Set the bar. It wasn't only his style of work, but it was the research that Pyle did into the subject. in 1889 Pyle traveled to Jamaica, which helped him create a colorful, but believable image, that shaped the way the world has thought of Caribbean pirates ever since.