Friday, January 30, 2009

N C Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Luke Thrice and the Seamless Web

Why did Wyeth paint The Great Train Robbery? He had gone West in 1904 on a trip funded by Scribner's Magazine. Howard Pyle, the great illustrator and head of the Howard Pyle School of Art, had recommended Wyeth for the trip. Wyeth had painted the West from his imagination after reading of the adventures in this vast open area, full of colorful characters. After returning from his second trip there, Wyeth was becoming well established in the magazine illustration world. At one point, he challenged Pyle's criticisms of his works and struck out on his own. Even though he desired to paint other topics, magazines still wanted more and more illustrations of the West. In 1912, The Great Train Robbery was the cover story for New Story Magazine, vol. IV, no. 6. Wyeth painted this action scene for the story "McKeon's Graft" by Luke Thrice. Who might Luke Thrice be? The "internets" have spotty linkage to sites talking of Mr. Thrice. However, at some point on that seamless web you can discover that John Russell, author and adventurer, wrote fiction, both novels and short stories under his own name and also Luke Thrice, Edward Rutledge, Andrew Peirce, George Jerry Osborn, Matthew Primus and others. Russell was definitely a man of many personalities!

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