Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle was born to Quaker parents in Wilmington, Delaware in 1853. He studied art briefly in Philadelphia, and in 1876 went to work  for Harper’s in New York, an association which was to last the  rest of his life, as did his friendships with fellow illustrators  like Edwin Abbey and A.B. Frost.

Feeling his apprenticeship in  New York fulfilled, Pyle returned to Wilmington, where for thirty  odd years he produced a remarkable outpouring of children’s books (The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Pepper and Salt, Otto  of the Silver Hand, The King Arthur series, and others),  and thousands of illustrations for Harper’s and other leading  publications of his day. Noted for his authoritative representation  of the American historical scene, Pyle was equally gifted in  his depiction of medieval subjects.

At the height of his success  he launched himself into a teaching career, first at Drexel in  Philadelphia, then in Wilmington, and at a summer school at Chadds  Ford. “Throw your heart into your picture, and leap in after  it,” he advised his students, who numbered among them such  illustrious names as N.C. Wyeth, Frank E. Schoonover, Stanley M. Arthurs,  W.J. Aylward, Thornton and Violet Oakley, and Harvey  Dunn, to name but a few. Pyle’s mural paintings included  a series for the Hudson County Courthouse, Jersey City, New Jersey,  and “The Battle of Nashville,” painted in 1907 for  the Wisconsin State Capitol. Probably no other man left such  and indelible imprint on the quality of American illustration,  his students perpetuating his teaching methods and enriching American illustration for the next generation and beyond.

When Howard Pyle died in Italy in 1911 on his first trip abroad, Harper’s  eulogized, “We shall not see his like again.”

Pyle’s famous pirate pictures  and his American historical illustrations were brought together  in Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates and The Book of the  American Spirit, published in 1921 and 1923 by Harper and  Brothers.

Howard Pyle
Stanley Arthurs, Howard Pyle, Frank E. Schoonover