Q. During the 19th century, illustrator Howard Pyle caught the eye of what famous European painter, who was born during the same year?

A. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Marooned," 1909 Howard Pyle (1853-1911). Oil on canvas, 40" x 60". Delaware Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1912

“Marooned,” 1909, Howard Pyle (1853-1911). Oil on canvas, 40″ x 60″. Delaware Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1912

In a letter to his brother Theo dated September 11, 1882, Van Gogh writes: “Do you know an American periodical called Harper’s Monthly Magazine? – there are marvelous sketches in it. I don’t know it very well, I’ve only seen six months of it and have only 3 issues myself, but there are things in it I find astounding. Among them a glass-blower’s and an iron foundry, all kinds of scenes of factory work.  As well as sketches of a Quaker town in the old days by Howard Pyle.”  

American illustration gained respect from many in Europe during the 19th century. It was considered one of the finest examples of American art.

In Paul Mentos’ 2011 documentary Howard Pyle and the Illustrated Story, Jill May, Professor of Literacy and Language at Purdue University states that she believes Pyle “wanted an American school of art. He wasn’t going overseas; he wanted to show that Americans could do something that they didn’t have to be trained in Europe to do, and one of those things could be the reflection of American culture, the reflection of American history, and as accurately as possible, thank you very much, while it’s romanticized.”

Click here to learn more about Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered, on view through October 28, 2012 at Norman Rockwell Museum.


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