Drexel Presents Fine Art Exhibit in Tribute to ‘Father of Illustration’ Howard Pyle
"Art is not a transcript nor a copy. Art is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul." - Howard Pyle
In continuation of Drexel University’s 125th anniversary celebration, the Pennoni Honors College will co-present with the National Museum of American Illustration, a new exhibition showcasing the influence of former Drexel instructor Howard Pyle and his students, who helped inspire Philadelphia’s historic roots in the applied art field and fueled its publishing boom in 1900s.
The exhibit, Howard Pyle, His Students & the Golden Age of American Illustration, will run from Apr. 4 through June 18, from 8-5 p.m. in the Paul Peck Alumni Center (corner of 32nd and Market Streets).
Howard Pyle was an instructor at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry (now Drexel University) from 1894-1900, and in that time, he taught a generation of celebrated illustrators including, Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Frank E. Schoonover, and Violet Oakley.
More than 20 oil paintings will hang in the Paul Peck Gallery, including Howard Pyle’s “Here, Andre! A Spy! (1897)” on display with a variety of works on paper, as well as accompanying artifacts. A majority of the exhibit will be presented in the Paul Peck Alumni Center, which is a historic Frank Furness designed building itself. Some of the featured original paintings and drawings decorated American homes during their time period — also gracing the covers of publications such as Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post.
“A.J. Drexel founded the Drexel Institute in 1891, and when he did, he made it clear that his vision should be accessible to men and women from all backgrounds, which was unique for a college of that time period,” said Paula Marantz Cohen, Pennoni Honors College dean. “Pyle’s time at Drexel undoubtedly shaped the field of American Illustration. He was an early parallel advocate of Drexel’s philosophy of ‘learning by doing’ encouraging his students to go out into the world to study their subject matter, an approach reflected in Drexel’s present-day Co-op program.
Not long after Drexel’s founding, Philadelphia’s publishing industry took off — greatly influencing Pyle’s artistic philosophy. Pyle honored Drexel’s mission of experiential, democratic learning. His influences greatly contributed to illustrative painting and drawing becoming one of the truest forms of applied art. He taught his students to be practical and commercially focused by observing reality first-hand.
“Today everyone knows the name Norman Rockwell but few people know the name Howard Pyle, let alone his art or his impact on generations of artists and American illustration,” says Judy Goffman Cutler, co-founder of the National Museum of American Illustration. “This exhibition will give viewers a first-hand and close-up look at the marvelous original paintings that most people have only seen in reproduction form.”
In celebration of the exhibition and Drexel’s 125th anniversary, a series of events related to the exhibition will be accessible across campus, including a “Pennoni Panels” installment titled, “A Tale of Two Mayors: The Past, Present & Future of Philadelphia,” featuring former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, on Wednesday, May 3, from 6-8 p.m. in Bossone Research Center’s Mitchell Auditorium.
A 260-page illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition, available through the National Museum of American, available here.
Saturday, April 8, starting at 5:30 a public tour will be given by Lynn Clouser, director The Drexel Collection. In addition, a public lecture on the Red Rose Girls will take place on Friday, May 12, from 1-2 p.m. and on Saturday, May 20 at 2 p.m. guests can experience Violet Oakley, a ‘one-woman show.’
View the full event list or schedule a tour of Howard Pyle, His Students & the Golden Age of American Illustration, here.