Friday, October 12, 2012


Howard Pyle (1853-1911) was the father of American illustration.   His powerful compositions (such as these horizontal stripes across a background color field)...

...had their origin in Pyle's small sketchbooks where he developed the designs for his pictures.

In some of Pyle's sketches we see him carefully mapping the placement of figures and objects in space:

But my favorites are the ones where we see Pyle wrestling with the abstract designs of his paintings:


These images are courtesy of the good folks at the Delaware Art Museum which owns a treasure trove of Pyle's sketchbooks showing the master at work (Thanks, Mary and Erin!)

Figure study


Anne said...

Marvelous! Thank you!

MORAN said...

These are really special. Are they on display at the museum? Pyle doesn't get nearly enough attention IMO.

Campbell Baird said...

Such a great painter and illustrator.thanks for sharing!

Untitled said...

David Apatoff reallly likes great pictures! And shares them too!

Thank you David. The rough designs by Pyle are great.

David Apatoff said...

Anne-- Glad you liked them. In person, they are surprisingly compact and dense with creativity.

MORAN-- They are not on display, although I believe that if you contact the Museum, you might be able to access them under certain circumstances.

Campbell Baird-- I agree with your assessment of Pyle, and I'm glad there is an audience out there that appreciates him.

Untitled-- It's true, I love to share the achievements of these wonderful artists. They accomplished so much, they deserve far more credit than they receive (while often some flavor-of-the-month scribbler is proclaimed a genius by fans who just haven't been exposed to the rich history of graphic arts).

chris bennett said...

Thanks for sharing these David.

What comes across so forcefully in the composition sketches is the way in which everything is stitched together - he's drawing nothing but links and conections.
The most important thing of all!

kev ferrara said...

Love these. I could look through Pyle's compositional sketches endlessly.

Thanks for fishing these out.

David Apatoff said...

Chris Bennett-- That's a good way of putting it.

Kevin Ferrara-- If you make it to the Delaware Art Museum, they have a beautiful collection of these sketchbooks.

Anonymous said...

I live in Delaware where two of these paintings are hanging in the Delaware Art Museum. They are truely breath-taking! It is worth the trip if you want to see them.

Unknown said...

Me encantan los dibujos en donde la linea y el trazado nervioso de la misma prevalece. me parece que le da una fuerza y un caracter a los dibujos sin igual.

Un saludo desde