Revisiting The Magical Images of Howard Pyle

Several years back, Jason Morehead and his Opus website made their way into my feedreader and my general "InterWeb consciousness" as a result of his five-part "Anime Primer" seriesBut this post on the brilliant (and nostalgia-triggering) illustrations Howard Pyle did for the legends of King Arthur is exactly the sort of thing that keeps him in the feedreader.

Click on through and enjoy the glorious images for yourself. And may they give you as much pleasure as they gave me. (SPOILERS: They will.)

There are hundreds of illustrations throughout Pyle’s novels, and even the smallest and simplest are beautiful for their elegant, refined style. Below are just a handful of Pyle’s Arthurian illustrations; hopefully, they’ll give you a sense of the man’s talent.
Note the detail on Arthur’s wardrobe and finery, and even in the tapestry hanging on the wall behind the great king.

With a bit of hindsight, I realized that there are a pair of reasons for my pleasure at discovering this particular post. First, because the Arthurian images -- as Mr. Morehead notes -- are so astonishingly rich and wonderful, and anything that brings them more attention is a good thing, in my book.


Second, though, because it helped me to remember just how much of my youthful imagination was formed by the pen of Pyle, and not simply because of his Arthur (and Lancelot). His Robin Hood was nearly as ubiquitous in the imagery of my adventuring youth, as was "Men of Iron." "The Story of Siegfried" played a key role in my obsession with Norse mythology, and there are few things I like more than "Tanglewood Tales" and "The Wonder Book." Plus, there are still images from his "Otto of the Silver Hand" that spring to mind with great regularity. 

Oh, and lest I forget, "The Wonder Clock" is one of the best things ever. Period.

But you know what else that Opus post helped me to realize? That Pyle had formed me not only through his own works, but through his profound impact on the only other person (with the possible exceptions of Gary Larson and Bill Watterson) who influenced my youthful imagination more than he himself had done: N. C. Wyeth, whose days as a 19-year-old student at Pyle's Brandywine School played a huge role in his style (and success.)

Attribution(s): "Two Knights" by Howard Pyle (source) is in the public domain via Wikipedia; "King Arthur of Britain" by Howard Pyle (source), is in the public domain via Wikipedia; "Arthur Draws Forth The Sword" by Howard Pyle (source) is in the public domain via Wikipedia; "Howard Pyle" is in the public domain via Wikipedia.