Monday, August 25, 2014

trip report - Delaware Art Museum

I found myself in Wilmington DE a few weeks ago with time on my hands. There was a lovely park to walk in from downtown, where we were staying, along the Brandywine Creek. This creek is steeped in history, being the starting location for the DuPont company in 1802. Both sides of the creek have pedestrian/cycling trails more than long enough for my morning constitutional. The south side of the trail winds up on some gorgeous city streets that include the Delaware Art Museum. I had to make a morning of that trip!  

The Museum grew from a collection of work by Howard Pyle (1853 – 1911), American artist, illustrator, author, and teacher. He is most known for being the father of American magazine illustration. At the time of his prominence, magazines were highly popular and contained serialized works of fiction that were lavishly illustrated. Pyle was a master at creating images that sparked the imagination and enriched the stories he illustrated. His most engaging illustrations were romanticizing pirates. Think of a default image of a swashbuckling pirate and that image is probably formed from one of Pyle's pictures. We have incorporated his drawings in our minds as what a pirate must have looked like.

Walking through the galleries was a delight in imagination. Each large print was accompanied by a synopsis of the magazine story that it had been painted for.  The facial features of the characters, the composition of the action and the colors (where used, many of the magazines printed in black and white, so some of his work was devoid of color) were magical. Included in the collection were works by other magazine and book illustrators who were Pyle's students and went on to become famous in their own right, including a number of very talented women. 

The museum also contains a gallery of modern art and a nicely- curated collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and objects. They also have an installation of Chihuly glass along a sunlit window. He is one of my most-loved artists. It was a very enjoyable morning!