PROPERTY FROM THE TUCKER FAMILY TRUST
First published in 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses is a story of adventure and romance set in fifteenth century England during the War of the Roses. Richard (Dick) Shelton, the protagonist, joins the fellowship of the Black Arrow to avenge the death of his father, who he learns was murdered by his guardian, Sir Daniel Brackley. Along the way Dick rescues the woman he loves and becomes entangled in the greater conflict surround them all – the struggle between the Yorks and the Lancasters. The present work depicts Dick as a chivalrous figure, who is escorting a man who has escaped from Brackley across the marsh to safety. Wyeth produced seventeen illustrations for the story.
Wyeth became particularly involved in illustrating The Black Arrow and according to Victoria Manning, “read extensively and understood the authors whose stories he visualized and communicated. Attention to exact details such as long-bows, spears, doublets, mail, and quarterstaves was essential. In thoroughly researching the details of medieval dress, language, and mannerisms, Wyeth followed Pyle’s lead. He accumulated pieces of authentic costuming and dramatized a scene or action whenever possible. His involvement with detail was so consuming that the book became part of his everyday life. Having internalized the black and warring mood of the medieval period, Wyeth reveled in the panoramic visual pageantry of these chivalrous times but despaired at the depressing legacy of brutality, treachery, and war. According to his letters, painting freed Wyeth from the emotional turmoil he experienced in his in-depth study of those perverted times. He released his passions on the canvas” (Visions of Advenutre: N.C. Wyeth and the Brandywine Artists, New York, 2000, p. 32).
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