This charming picture was created by Maxfield Parrish (1870–1966) in 1904. It is one of the cover images for my forthcoming book, Painting America’s Portrait – How Illustrators Created Their Art. Later in his seven-decade long career, Parrish referred to himself as “a businessman with a brush.” When he produced this piece, however, he still just an illustrator.
With Trumpet and Drum was the first of eight illustrations Oarrish created for Charles Scribner’s Sons 1904 edition of Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field (1850–1895). Field was a journalist who eventually settled in Chicago. He is remembered today for the charming poems he wrote for children. A few them, like "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat", and "the Dickey bird is singing in the Amphalula tree," have become classics.
Maxfield Parrish was the perfect artist to illustrate Field’s enchanting little poems. He had burst onto the national scene a few years before after creating a three-panel mural for the Mask and Wig Club at the University of Pennsylvania. The theme he chose for his sensational mural was “Old King Cole and his fiddlers three.” Fairy tale characters in faraway places, like the ones he pictured in this mural, became the thematic cornerstones for the rest of his career. I expect it is fair to say that all the pictures he created for Field’s little book are now famous and still popular.
The age of color illustration was in the process of being born when this colorized lithograph was produced. The artist and the publisher both deserve credit for being pioneers in this new technological age.
Field’s poem, which was called With Trumpet and Drum, did not have anything particular connection to the 4th of July or celebrating America, but Parrish’s work provides a wonderful expression of the sentiments that surround this colorful holiday. I talking about Maxfield Parrish and his career in my biographical sketch of him at the back of my book. It will be published this fall by Commonwealth Books of Virginia. You can learn more about at www.commonwealthbooks.org.
This week’s “image of the week” is a two-image set. Both pictures were painted by former students of Howard Pyle, the so-called “Father of American Illustration.” Philip R. Goodwin (1882–1935) and N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945) were classmates in the Howard Pyle Scool of Illustration in Wilmington, Delaware. They both arrived in Wilmington in 1902 and “graduated” in 1904. Goodwin then returned to New York City where he opened a studio, possibility around 10th and Broadway, which was near several major publishing houses. Wyeth remained in Wilmington until 1908 when he moved his growing family and studio to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Goodwin’s ad, which he created for the Cream of Wheat Co. in 1907 appeared first. While studying with Pyle in 1902, Goodwin had received a commission from the Macmillan Company of New York to illustrate Jack London’s Call of the Wild. The book and the illustrations were both successes. I suppose this is how Cream of Wheat discovered Goodwin. He went to a very success career creating image of outdoor and hunting scenes. I put him in this post because he was what I call an “artist adman.” He applied the techniques he learned from Howard Pyle to create an appealing ad. When viewers saw it, they got the message.
Wyeth also created ads for Cream of Wheat. I put him in this post, however, because he was the quintessential storyteller. Pyle encouraged his students to insert themselves in the stories they illustrated. They could create more engrossing scenes, he said, if they became personally involved in them. None of Pyle’s student, nor anyone else, was better at involving himself in his stories than Wyeth. His itchy finger is on that trigger. He’s staring anxiously down that long dangerous barrel. He had the capacity to bring his audiences into his pictures—we’re right there with him. It this case, like so many others, we’re waiting on the edge of our seats to find out what happens. His career was even more spectacular than Goodwin’s.
These are just two artists and two pictures from the Golden Age of Illustration. I’ll be talking about many more in the weeks ahead. Bear in mind as you look at the pictures that art had come from one place and was on its way somewhere else.