The Art of Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle

While driving back to DC this past Sunday after spending a pleasant weekend in my home country (New Jersey), I made a slight detour into Wilmington, Delaware in order to visit the Delaware Art Museum.  The reason - I really wanted to see their collection of Howard Pyle artwork.  

Howard Pyle was an incredibly influential American illustrator of the late 18 and early 1900's who specialized in historical subjects and the illustration of young adult books. Pyle was also a prolific teacher and instructor who had a huge impact on the young contemporaries who studied underneath him; artists such as N.C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn and Elenore Abbott.  Eventually, the genre of art that Pyle and his students birthed was known as the Brandywine School and collectively they revolutionized the way magazines and books were illustrated in the United States. 

Among Pyle's many contributions to the cultural scene was the manner in which he painted pirates. Pyle was the man who created the instantly recognizable, swashbuckling pirate esthetic of blowzy pants, sashes, mustaches, earrings, head scarves etc.  Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribbean look the way they do because of Howard Pyle's century old illustrations. 

Seeing his work in person was a real treat, and I wanted to give you a brief sampling.