Saturday, March 4, 2017

N.C. Wyeth's Study from Bargue

N.C. Wyeth study (left) and Bargue Plate (right)

Blog reader Andrew Sonea discovered that N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) studied from the Charles Bargue: Drawing Course:
"I was looking through the Brandywine River Museum's online Catalogue Raisonne for NC Wyeth and made a small but interesting discovery. One of his early studies done at the age of 18 (before his studies under Pyle) is a copy from the Bargue Drawing Course! Even the curator seems to have overlooked this as there is no mention of it on the page and it was previously presumed to be drawn from life."
"I've attached an image with a side by side comparison of NC's drawing on the left and the plate from the Bargue Drawing Course on the right. This is the first time I have ever come across anything connecting Wyeth to Bargue! I'm extremely interested in how different artists have influenced each other, especially across generations, so I wanted to share this neat connection with others. It also shows that he was trained in traditional academic draftsmanship to have a solid foundation before he started applying it to storytelling under Pyle"
The curator at the Brandywine River Museum says:
"This drawing is representative of the type of work the artist did as a student before joining the Howard Pyle School. It could have been done during Wyeth's spring semester at Massachusetts Normal Art School (1900) for class described as "Model, charcoal," or done at the Eric Pape School during fall 1900."
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9 comments:

S. Stipick said...

Edited - Way too many typos and still finding some.

During my time working at the Brandywine Museum I brought up the Bargue Course to the currators as well as the librarian on certain occasions and was summarily dismissed. Not for any malicious reason I just think their knowledge on this particular subject at the time was limited as the Bargue course was just gaining popularity and recently republished. From my experience and conversations, I don't think they understood how valued the Bargue Course was to many artists and schools, even if it was peripherally used to augment or learn at the begining stages, its formula as you well know is very approachable, especially by those will little experience.

The Elihu Vedder Rubiyat exhibition was of particular interest becuase it had the idealogies of the French Academic, David, The Ecole, and Picot written all over it. Clearly inlfuenced by the philosophies that would later develop into the Bargue Course and many others like it.

One of NC's earlier teachers, before Pyle, studied at the Academie Colarossi, a direct competitor to the Ecole and the Academic Julian, so there was no doubt in my mind at that time, that NC would have had access to Bargue, the Academic Julian's courses, or any of the others in some capacity or another. I suspect they (museum staff) now, with sites like this and plethora of information now available on the topic, are at least semi-familiar. And if by some reason they are not, they should consider looking into this.

At the risk of stunting my career, if its not already stunted, the Brandywine Valley has made en entire business out of Pyle and his students, rightfully so. Heck, I asked to get married at Hotel DuPont because of the giant Pyle hanging in the lobby, I buy into it as much as any other lover of illustration would. Because of this I often wonder if that is why earlier educators are rarely mentioned and often marginalized. Not out of an intent to wrongly push aside the earlier influences on the artists lives but because in the light of the mountainous Pyle, its easy to forget there were leagues of other teachers and gifted artists bringing them up to point where the could study under Pyle.

James Gurney said...

S. Stipeck, Very interesting insights, thank you. Pyle certainly deserves a lot of credit for the story- and composition-based training he gave his students, but you're absolutely right: His students came into his summer program with a lot of academic skills already under their belts. Jessie Wilcox Smith studied at the Philadelphia Academy, which had Eakins's Gerome-trained influence all over it. Any serious art education by the end of the 19th century in America would have been highly influenced by French — and to a lesser extent — Munich and Dusseldorf methods as well.

Although Pyle did mention some French painters approvingly, such as Breton and Bastien Lepage, he tended to be critical of French training and never traveled to France himself. He only made it to Italy late in life. His criticisms of French art were paired with a desire to see an American mode of thought brought to art teaching. NC Wyeth also didn't go to France, so between them, it's probably not surprising that they didn't bring up Beaux Arts training more often, even though the parallels with what they were doing and what was going on in Europe was stronger than they would like to have admitted.

S. Stipick said...

"...Munich and Dusseldorf methods as well."

With all the love the French methods get we dont hear all that much about the Munich and Dusseldorf methods. They too had a strong history within antiquity. I wonder if they had accompanying drawing and painting mauals and how would they compare and contrast to the French Academic modalities? Sadly, a quick internet search doesnt pull up much. Mr. Gurney, you have me wondering and I suppose its time to start digging through the big ole' internet! Thanks.

James Gurney said...

S. Stipick, Good place to start is Wm. Merritt Chase and Frank Duveneck, who studied together in Munich. In contrast to the light-toned and high-chroma Paris aesthetic, the approach in Munich under Piloty was more dramatic, with black darks.

Gayle said...

I'm sure most of your readers already know about this, but just in case, here is a link to the free online downloadable Charles Bargue Drawing Course: https://archive.org/details/C.BargueDrawingCourse

Since I am mostly self-taught, and didn't have the opportunity to attend art academies or ateliers, doing these cast drawings has been enormously beneficial in understanding some basic anatomy and value shifts around face and body contours.

mercutio said...

James do you know any recommended looks or courses or DVD etc to learn how to get a likeness in a face, I completely am terrible at it and I want to try address this even if the course is really basic!

My Pen Name said...

i studied with Nelson Shanks. I remember showing him the barque book and he was pretty aghast...'people learned to draw with that" - then I explained that the original course, I believe was not for artists but for artisans who didn't quite have what the ability to be top tier artists.. "oh that makes sense" he then said....

I think Nelson's view was a little harsh (he was a GREAT teacher by the way), and apparently most Renaissance apprentices started out using a similar copybook. learning the forms....

James Gurney said...

My Pen Name, did Shanks have another program for copying that he thought was better? How was it different from Bargue?

Mercutio, nothing comes immediately to mind, though I know a lot of excellent academic painters and caricature artists have YouTube videos and DVDs addressing their approaches to getting a likeness. My DVD on Portraits in the Wild is not really about accuracy or getting a likeness, but more about improvising from moving subjects.

Gayle, thanks for this. Of course the plates themselves were published before 1923 and therefore are in the public domain, and should be freely available, but the printed book version is introduced and presented by Graydon Parish and Gerald Ackerman, who rightly wish to be compensated for their scholarship.

My Pen Name said...

Hi James,
he loved Vanderpool and suggested people copy from there. He went as far as to go though my copy and check mark the ones he thought I specifically needed.
Just a guess, but I think he came up through the colorists and didn't have academic training and/or rejected some of it.

As far as I know there was a gap in the US until Jacob Collins and Water street painters essentially recreated the academy...

Studio Incamminati would probably have better answers but when I took him at the league, we'd all start in charcoal, no matter what your experience - and this caused many experienced painters to walk away - i was temped but i am very glad I didn't!

angles angles angles.. no measuring tools allowed, train your eye.. no sight -sizing "are you going to sight size the grand canyon!" he'd say....