by Jill P. May & Robert E. May
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011. Pp. xiv, 264.
Illus., notes, biblio, index. $45.00. ISBN: 0252036263
A look at the life and work of one of the most influential of America’s artists, Howard Pyle (1853-1911).
Pyle created many of the images that come to mind when we think of particular folk tales or historical characters, such as Robin Hood, the Pilgrim Fathers, pirates such as Long John Silver, and more. He also helped shape American art to the present, through his influence on later artists such as N.C. Wyeth. But what earns this excellent biography a review here is that Pyle was meticulously careful about getting historical detail correctly, which reverberates to the present in the works of military artists such as Troiani, Gallon, Kunstler, and others. In addition, he executed a number of notable battle pieces, such as “
The Battle of Nashville
”. Pyle was also important in the development of the American armed forces war artist programs; six of the eight artists with the AEF in France during World War I were either his students or associates.
While the authors do not dwell on these aspects of Pyle’s career and influence, anyone interested in war art will find this a useful read.