In 1900, frustrated with formal art instruction, renowned illustrator Howard Pyle opened his own art school in the Brandywine Valley. Rather than teach technique, he encouraged students to capture a moment and bring it to life. His teachings would influence such greats as Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell.
The Wyeth Family
Pyle accepted only the most promising students. One of his most well-known was N.C. Wyeth, who enrolled in 1902 and who shared Pyle’s fascination with the landscape and history of America. Wyeth soon became a celebrity in his own right, painting several of the greatest early covers for the Post and, later, for The Country Gentleman. His work is known for its vibrant color and frequent high drama.
N.C. Wyeth’s son Andrew, too, was inspired by the realism of the Brandywine School. But unlike his father, Andrew was a reserved and subtle artist who restricted himself to a limited color palette. Although he frequently painted landscapes like the one below, he described himself as an abstractionist.
A Woman’s Place
In Pyle’s time, a career as an artist was not generally considered suitable for women. In a bold challenge to the art establishment, Pyle admitted as many women as men to his school. Several of his alumnae would become quite successful, including Sarah Stilwell-Weber and Katherine R. Wireman, both of whom contributed regularly to the Post.
Down to the Sea
Anton Otto Fischer came to Brandywine after serving as a deckhand for three years. Under Pyle, he learned to apply his nautical experience to vivid seascapes like the one below.
Frank E. Schoonover’s early work was influenced by Pyle’s paintings of knights and pirates, but he soon developed his own style. He is remembered today for scenes of action and romance, frequently set in the wilderness.