As we get ready for the opening of Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered this Saturday, June 9, along with our Swagger & Dagger Dance Party, here is a fun post about the illustrator’s own costume parties, held during illustration’s Golden Age:
Throughout his career Howard Pyle gathered an impressive collection of period clothing and accoutrements he used to give plausibility to various period illustrations. While Pyle used paid models, he also had his students dress in appropriate costume and model for him and one another. In the cyanotype photo to the right, four of his students and one of his models are dressed in a mishmash of costumes: (standing, l to r) Bertha Corson Day, model Annie Haley, and Clyde O. DeLand; (seated, l to r) Robert Lindsey Mason, and Emlen McConnell. The women are partially dressed in men’s clothing and DeLand and McConnell wear women’s clothing.
After the party wound down, the students partied on into the night.
The extant photos of the students in their costumes (in the collections of The Delaware Art Museum and The Brandywine River Museum) reveal them posed in Pyle’s Franklin Street studio in Wilmington. Around the fireplace and on the mantel are various props Pyle used in his work. I laugh every time I see the Arthurs photo because the pants he wears were breeches and meant to end just below a man’s knee.
—Dr. Joyce K. Schiller, Curator of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, Norman Rockwell Museum
—Dr. Joyce K. Schiller is the Curator of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, a center for the study of American illustration art at the Norman Rockwell Museum. She came to the Berkshires from the Delaware Art Museum where she was the Curator of the American and Illustration art collections from 2001-2009. Her essay “Teaching Storytelling” appears in the catalogue for “Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered.”