The Mermaid by Howard Pyle is probably one of the famous illustrator’s most mysterious works, as the painting remained unfinished when he left the United States in November 1910 to travel in Europe.
Pyle never returned to the U.S. He passed away just a year later on November 9, 1911 in Florence, Italy.
Howard Pyle was born in Wilmington, Delaware on 5 March 1853.
He became a noted American illustrator and writer, primarily of books for young audiences, his work being characterized by an imaginative and colourful realism and a passion for historical detail.
He illustrated numerous historical and adventure stories for such periodicals as Harper’s Weekly and St. Nicholas.
His own books for children, included ‘The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1883), ‘Otto of the Silver Hand’ (1888) and ‘Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates’.
These, and other books, often with medieval European settings, including a four-volume set on King Arthur, assured his reputation.
In 1894 he began teaching illustration at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry and after 1900 founded a school, where his students included Olive Rush and N. C. Wyeth.
Pyle devoted most of his later years to teaching such outstanding illustrators of the next generation of the American Brandywine School, as Maxfield Parrish, Frank E. Schoonover, Jessie Wilcox Smith and N. C. Wyeth.
Howard Pyle spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.