Thornton Oakley story illustration for "Harper's Monthly" (1909): rare, beautifully framed antique


Building a Foot-Path Along the Temporary Cables
    Illustration for “The Weaving of the Bridge” by Edward Hungerford
    By Thornton  Oakley
    Harper's Monthly Magazine. Vol. 119. July 1909

    Image Size: H 8.25” x W 5.75”
    Matted & Framed:  H 16.00” x W 13.50”
    Framed Price: $225.00  
 Whiteglove packaging and shipping approximately $30.00


TO returned to Philadelphia after graduating from Pyle’s school (in Wilmington, Delaware) in 1905. He was soon busy writing and illustrating articles for Harper’s Monthly Magazine. His article “Toilers of the River,” which appeared in the magazine’s February 1906 issue, may have been his first published work. Clearly Harper’s liked Pyle and his students. Elizabeth Shippen Green’s illustrations for Warwick Deeping’s “Tiphanie le Fee” appeared in the same issue, and Pyle’s pirate story, “Fate of a Treasure-Town,” appeared in the magazine’s December issue.



I do not know how many more pieces TO produced before he created this illustration for Hungerford’s “The Weaving of the Bridge.” In this striking image, TO employs the full scope of his architectural training. Indeed, of all Pyle’s students, none seemed to learn less about telling stories in pictures than the architect from UPenn. This scene, for example, is successful not because TO engages the viewer in the work the bridge weavers are doing. It succeeds because of its perspective and dramatic dimensions. Many of its viewers probably felt vertiginous as they imagined themselves with those men on the flimsy platform.



TO seems to have incorporated aspects of this unsettling grandeur in all his illustrations. He creates big towering things that strain one's neck to study. See if you don’t feel the same strain when you inspect his illustrations of the ships being build at Hogg Island Shipyard during WWI.



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