Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pyle Study

Here’s a small gray wash drawing of a costumed model by Howard Pyle. According to illustration historian Walt Reed, this was probably not a preliminary study for an illustration, but rather a drawing exercise or a demonstration for his students. Howevery, if anyone knows of a finished illustration related to this study, please let me know.


jeff said...

Beautiful study.
It reminds me of Winslow Homer's work.

Ian Schoenherr said...

I think that this was a drawing exercise, but not a demonstration for his students. The style, technique, and subject date it from the late 1870s - some years before Pyle (officially) started teaching. In fact, I think Pyle did this when he himself was a student and struggling writer/illustrator: in a letter to his mother from November 28, 1876 (within two months of his arrival in New York), Pyle wrote: "I paid a visit to the Art Students’ League in the evening. Snowing as it was, there was quite a class assembled, sketching a temporary pose assumed by a young lady. This class is held every evening and would be very useful indeed, I should think. One of the students poses every evening for a half hour."

The model's hairstyle and comb appear in a few of Pyle's pictures from 1878, so I have a hunch he made this particular picture in late 1877 or early 1878.

I'm also convinced that Winslow Homer attended these same classes and that his works such as "Woman Peeling a Lemon" (1876), "Blackboard" (1877), and "Woman and Elephant" (c.1877) were born out of these temporary poses.

Please excuse the longwindedness!

r8r said...

no apologies needed! your description is a window into a shared past.

Erik Bongers said...

you mean 'in-depth expertise'.

Ian Schoenherr said...

Sorry, I'm obsessed with all things "Pylean" and don't get to talk about it much.

Here's one more thing: I actually looked at this piece in person a while ago at Illustration House. I recall the name "Durand" was written on the back. This might just be circumstantial, but one of Howard Pyle's early roommates in New York was Ernest Leon Durand, a Belgian-born (c1855) artist. After living in a boarding-house at 250 West 38th, by May 1877 Pyle had moved to a studio (which he shared with "my friend Durand") at 1267 Broadway, near 32nd Street and Sixth Avenue. Pyle stayed here until November 1878, when he relocated to 788 Broadway (at 10th Street). Durand, meanwhile, remained at 1267 - and perhaps it was he who preserved this early example of Pyle's work.

angela said...

This is regarding the post left by Ian Schoenherr in which he mentions Ernst Leon Durand. Durand was my step great-grandfather. He married Marguerite Frey (nee Zumbrunn) and lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was step-father to my grandfather, Arthur. Unfortunately, no one in my family has any of his works, they were stolen in the mid 1990's. It is very exciting to find out a bit of one's history. Thank you Mr. Schoenherr for that info. regarding my great-grandfather.