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March 28, 2006

"Admit it. You really, really, really wish you owned a copy."


Is that not one of the dead sexiest book covers you've seen in ages? A pirate shooting a gun right at you, another with a knife in his mouth coming aboard, a body on the deck and best of all a tri-corner wearing, cutlass brandishing, bearded fellow out to argue a finer point or two about signalling while passing in the Carribean.

I may faint. It's so good I need a cigarette after just looking at it and I don't even smoke. Shivers my timbers just looking at it.

So who was Frank Schoonover? He was one of the Brandywine School and a student of Howard Pyle's who went on to have a 60+ year career as an illustrator and writer. (Pyle's classes at the Drexel Institute are the stuff of legend. His students included Jessie Wilcox Smith, Maxfield Parrish, and Harvey Dunn to name a few.) Imagine what swapping paint brushes and having lunch with this crew must have been like. Makes you wonder if they ever doodled.

Schoonover was one of the few artists at the time to really travel to get a better perspective on his work. From www.schoonoverfund.org a list of his travels:

Schoonover's travels took him to lands far away; Hudson and James Bay (Winter 1903-04), Montana (1905), Europe (1907), the The Canadian frontier again (Summer 1911), New Orleans (1911), Cuba (1936). From these travels, Schoonover gleaned sketches, diaries, and photographs that were the inspiration for many of his paintings of the North American Frontier.

Who in their right mind wants to go to Hudson and James Bay for winter? Madness.

Within the space of a generation Schoonover established himself as a giant in the field. His paintings are breathtaking and convey a sense of space and realism that is still such that it's hard to imagine how he accomplished it. To keep this somewhat relevant his piratical themed work included "Blackbeard Buccaneer" (1922), "Privateers of '76" (1923), "Barbary Bo" (1929), "To Have and To Hold" (1931), "Yankee Ships in Pirate Waters" (1931) and "Crimson Cutlass" (1933) which are all on my short list to find for Jack.

The Frank E. Schoonover Fund, Inc. associated with the website above is publishing, within the next couple of years, a complete Catalogue Raisonne of Schoonover's works. A quick browsing of their website and this one this one should be enough to have you put it on your short list of books to look forward to.

Did I mention he illustrated Burrough's "A Princess of Mars" when it was first published? *grin*

Worse for Jack, it appears that http://www.artmasterworks.com/ is offering drop jaw beautiful reproductions of some of the genre. Must resist. Must resist!

Posted by Jim at March 28, 2006 01:07 AM


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