Howard Pyle illustration from "Robin Hood" (1883): a beautifully framed antique


"The Sheriff of Nottingham cometh before the King at London"    
    Illustration for The Adventures of Robin Hood

           by Howard Pyle
        New York. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1883.

  Image Size: H 9.125” x W 6.625”
    Matted & Framed:  H 15.125” x W 12.625”
    Framed Price: $225.00  
    Whiteglove packaging and shipping approximately $25.00


Pyle created this illustration in 1883 for what many consider to be his greatest work, Robin Hood. It was not engraved, however. It was photo-engraved.

Pyle’s original pen-and-inks were photographed, probably at the New York facility of John Moss, and converted using Moss’s actinic process onto inkable plates. In Moss's process, copper plates were coated with a light sensitive gel. Light beamed through a photographic negative struck and hardened the gel. The lines in the negative’s drawing blocked the light and prevented it from hardening the gel on the plate below. When the soluble parts of the gel were washed off, inkable troughs remained like those in an etching. This process worked for line drawings but not for shaded pictures.

Moss's process suited Pyle in spite of its technical limitations. He was striving to recreate the atmosphere of Robin Hood's 12th century Sherwood Forest, and to do this, he had adapted a style of imaging reminiscent of Hans Dürer (1490-1534). None of the illustrations Pyle did for this masterpiece captured the ancient atmosphere of King John's England better than this one of the Sheriff of Nottingham paying homage to King John, recently returned from the Crusades.

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