Frank E. Schoonover: American Visions

November 10, 2018 through May 27, 2019

Frank E. Schoonover’s (1877-1972) legendary adventure paintings were inspired by the belief that artists should live what they paint—an adage often repeated by his noted teacher, illustrator Howard Pyle, and absorbed by his fellow student and friend, N.C. Wyeth. This exhibition will explore the breadth of this important Golden Age artist’s career, beginning with Schoonover’s art school experiences as a student in Pyle’s classes at the newly founded Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in Philadelphia, beginning in 1896, and his time at the Chadds Ford Summer School in 1899, where he honed his skills among other gifted Pyle pupils. The artist’s historical book illustrations and dramatically staged adventure paintings will illuminate the depth of his own wanderlust. Schoonover made daring excursions to Canada and Alaska—during one such trip, in 1903, he traveled 1,200 miles almost entirely by snowshoe, dogsled, and canoe.

Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972). Abe Catherson Pursues Masten Across the Desert, 1916. Illustration for The Range Boss by Charles Alden Seltzer, (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1916, facing p. 320). Oil on canvas, 36 x 27 in. Private Collection

He lived among the Blackfeet Indians of the northern plains, and with Alaskan Eskimos to experience, first-hand, the world portrayed in Jack London’s To Build a Fire, a short story about a protagonist who ventures out in the sub-zero tundras of the Yukon Territory accompanied only by his dog. The artist’s wilderness experiences would inspire his art throughout his career, making authentic portrayals of the far reaches of America possible.

The exhibition will feature Schoonover’s paintings for such classic stories as Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, and Ivanhoe, as well as illustrations for the novels of Zane Grey, which included Open Range, Avalanche, Rustlers of Silver Ridge, and Valley of Wild Horses, among others. During his long career, he illustrated more than two hundred books, and created memorable portrayals of Clarence Edward Mulford’s Hopalong Cassidy to the delight of the character’s many ardent fans. Schoonover’s long teaching career will also be examined, as will his role in establishing the Delaware Art Museum and obtaining seminal Pyle works for its collection. Eighty original paintings, drawings, and studies will be on view, as will archival photographs and examples of the artist’s daybooks and personal effects.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Frank Earle Schoonover was born on August 19th, 1877 in Oxford, NJ, son of Colonel John Schoonover and Elizabeth LaBarre Schoonover. After graduating with honors from the Trenton Model School in 1896, he briefly considered the Presbyterian ministry. However, a Philadelphia Inquirer advertisement for illustration classes steered him to Drexel Institute, where he was accepted into Howard Pyle’s class for aspiring illustrators. Fellow students included Stanley Arthurs, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Thornton Oakley. In both 1898 and ’99, Pyle took note of Schoonover’s incipient talents, offering him one of only ten scholarships at his Chadds Ford summer school. By early 1900 the uniquely trained and confident young artist had moved to Wilmington, continuing his studies with Pyle at the mentor’s studios on Franklin Street, launching his career with a commission of four illustrations in the book, A Jersey Boy in the Revolution.

Thus began a very successful and prolific artistic career spanning over sixty years, and encompassing approximately 2,200 illustrations for over 130 books and many of the popular magazines and periodicals of the day; The Saturday Evening PostHarper’sScribner’sOutingAmerican Boy MagazineLadies’ Home Journal, and Collier’s, among others. In addition, he completed over three hundred landscapes of the Brandywine and Delaware river valleys primarily after the mid-1930’s, by which time The Golden Age of American Illustration had essentially ended. After 1906, Schoonover’s studio at 1616 N. Rodney Street was the epicenter of this artistic activity. His travels, however, took him to lands far away; Hudson and James Bay (Winter 1903-04), Montana (1905), Europe (1907), the The Canadian frontier again (Summer 1911), New Orleans (1911), Cuba (1936). From these travels, Schoonover gleaned sketches, diaries, and photographs that were the inspiration for many of his paintings of the North American Frontier. He also published several magazine stories recounting these trips, including; ‘The Edge of the Wilderness’ and ‘The Haunts of Jean Lafitte.’ His canvases were filled with dramatic images of trappers, Indians, cowboys, and pirates, breaker boys, coal miners, and women in the Pennsylvania Silk Mills. Writers including Jack London, Zane Grey, James Gilbert Parker, Henry Van Dyke, and George Marsh relished the Schoonover illustrations in their books.

Schoonover married Martha Culberston in 1911, then ended the decade with a series of fourteen powerful World War One paintings, published in Ladies’ Home Journal as “The Souvenir Pictures of the Great War.” Of his book illustration during the teens, the most notable are those found in the two Burroughs books, Princess of Mars and Gods of Mars. Fifty-three years later he would receive the Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliophile’s National Award. Throughout the twenties, his book illustration prospered, highlighted by covers for the Harper’s Children’s classics; KidnappedRobinson CrusoeHeidiHans Brinker, and Swiss Family Robinson.

His other significant contribution to the artistic community was the formation of the Wilmington Sketch Club with fellow illustrator Gayle Hoskins. This later evolved into the Delaware Art Museum of which Schoonover was one of the original founders. Even throughout the thirties, commissions continued for publications like American Boy MagazineYouth’s Companion, and Country Gentleman. Schoonover also designed a magnificent series of stained glass windows for Immanuel church, and completed his only mural in 1936 for the H. Fletcher Brown School. Another impressive commission involved two large Pirate compositions for Irenee du Pont’s Cuba estate, Xanadu. They remain there to this day.

As the 1930’s closed, and having witnessed the twilight of his illustrative career, Schoonover dedicated his artistic efforts to the landscape of his youth, especially Pike County, where he spent so many summers at the family Bushkill house. He painted actively until the late sixties. By that time he had been honored by a retrospective at the Delaware Art Museum, and been conferred an Honorary Masters of Art Degree by the University of Delaware. He also found time to conduct art classes at his studio for almost thirty years. By the time of his death in 1972, the Delaware Press had acknowledged him as “The Dean of Delaware Artists.”

Subsequently, his son, Cortlandt, authored two books celebrating his father’s important contribution to the annuals of American art and illustration; The Edge of the Wilderness, 1974, and Frank E. Schoonover, Illustrator, North American Frontier, 1976. Perhaps the greatest tribute to Schoonover occurred during his first foray into the frozen Canadian north in 1903. The Ojibways he encountered proudly gave him the Indian name; “Miss-a-nog-a-neegan,” the picture-making man, and made him a blood brother of the tribe.

IMAGES

 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972). Drummer Boy, A Chadds Ford study, 1899. Oil on canvas, 36 x 12 1/8 in. Collection of the Brandywine Museum, Margaret I. Handy Memorial Fund
 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972) Hasse Spears a Mullet, c. 1906 Gouache on board. Collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Anonymous gift, 1970
 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972). Sinking of the Yawl Boat, 1899
Illustration for A Jersey Boy in Revolution by Everett T. Tomlinson (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899). Oil on illustration board, 13 x 8 in. Collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wyeth, 1985
 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972)
Michel Whitebear, 1908. Illustration for Eelip’s Double Wedding: A Story of Athabasca by Hulbert Footner, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, January 1909, p. 389. Pen and ink on board, 9 3/8 x 7 7/8 in.. Collection of the Brandywine Museum, Gift of Jane Colette Wilcox, 1982
 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank E. Schoonover (American, 1877 – 1972). She Took the Oars and Rowed Me Slowly Around the Shore, 1907. Illustration for Some Remarks on Gulls by Henry van Dyke, Scribner’s Magazine, August 1907, p. 141 . Oil on canvas, 35 x 24 in. Collection of the Brandywine Museum, Gift of S. Hallock du Pont, Jr., 1984
 (2001) Capture of the Galleon
Frank Schoonover (1877–1972) Canadian Trapper (White Fang and Gray Beaver in Canoe), 1906, Oil on Canvas, 35.375 x 19.625 in., Illustration for “White Fang” by Jack London, Collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wyeth, 1985 85.10.87

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Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA      November 10, 2018 through May 27, 2019

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Norman Rockwell Museum
is Open 7 days a week year-round

May – October and holidays:
open daily: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Rockwell’s Studio Open:
April 28 through November 12, 2018 (currently open) Hours 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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DIRECTIONS

Norman Rockwell Museum 9 Route 183 Stockbridge, MA 01262 413-298-4100 x 221

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Important note: Many GPS and online maps do not accurately place Norman Rockwell Museum*. Please use the directions provided here and this map image for reference. Google Maps & Directions are correct! http://maps.google.com/

* Please help us inform the mapping service companies that incorrectly locate the Museum; let your GPS or online provider know and/or advise our Visitor Services office which source provided faulty directions.

Route 7 runs north to south through the Berkshires. Follow Route 7 South to Stockbridge. Turn right onto Route 102 West and follow through Main Street Stockbridge. Shortly after going through town, you will veer to the right to stay on Route 102 West for approximately 1.8 miles. At the flashing light, make a left onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
Route 7 runs north to south through the Berkshires. Follow Route 7 North into Stockbridge. Turn left onto Route 102 West at the stop sign next to The Red Lion Inn. Shortly after you make the left turn, you will veer to the right to stay on Route 102 West for approximately 1.8 miles. At the flashing light, make a left onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
Boston (two-and-a-half hours) or Springfield (one hour): Take the Ma ssachusetts Turnpike (I-90) West, getting off at exit 2 – Lee. At the light at the end of the ramp turn left onto Route 20 East and then immediately turn right onto Route 102 West. Follow Route 102 West into Stockbridge Center (about five miles). Continue going west on Route 102 (Main St.). Shortly after going through town, you will veer to the right to stay on Route 102 West for approximately 1.8 miles. At the flashing light, make a left onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
from Albany and west: (one hour) Take I-90 east to exit B3 – Route 22. Go south on New York Route 22 to Massachusetts Route 102 East. Stay on Route 102 East through West Stockbridge. Continue on Route 102 East approximately 5.5 miles until you come to a blinking light at the intersection of Route 183. Make a right at the blinking light onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
(two-and-a-half hours) Take either the New York State Thruway or the Taconic State Parkway to I-90 East. Follow I-90 East to exit B3 – Route 22. Go south on New York Route 22 to Massachusetts Route 102 East. Stay on Route 102 East through West Stockbridge. Continue on Route 102 East approximately 5.5 miles until you come to a blinking light at the intersection of Route 183. Make a right at the blinking light onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
(one-and-a-half hours) Take I-91 North to the Massachusetts Turnpike. Take the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) West, getting off at exit 2 – Lee. At the light at the end of the ramp turn left onto Route 20 East and then immediately turn right onto Route 102 West. Follow Route 102 West into Stockbridge Center (about five miles). Continue going west on Route 102 (Main St.). Shortly after going through town, you will veer to the right to stay on Route 102 West for approximately 1.8 miles. At the flashing light, make a left onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
(five minutes) Go west on Route 102 (Main St.). Shortly after going through town, you will veer to the right to stay on Route 102 West for approximately 1.8 miles. At the flashing light, make a left onto Route 183 South and the Museum entrance is 0.6 miles down on the left.
2018-08-22T15:20:46+00:00