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The magic pencil of the amazing F.O.C. Darley at the Brandywine River Museum
F.O.C. Darley (1882-1888), Pfalz Castle, on the Rhine, 1866. Pencil and watercolor on paper. Collection Brandywine River Museum. Museum Purchase, 2005.

CHADDS FORD, PA.- More than 60 works by F.O.C. Darley, whose talent in book and magazine illustrations made him the most popular illustrator of his day, are on view at the Brandywine River Museum from January 19 through March 10, 2013.

Darley received praise for his "magic pencil," immortalizing the fictional characters created by the most famous authors of his day, including Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. He was also renowned for his drawings and prints related to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and the American frontier.

"Darley is a pivotal figure in the growth of illustration in early America," said Audrey Lewis, associate curator. "His career launched just as the market for book and magazine illustration was exploding. So great was the demand for Darley's work that new books were promoted as 'illustrated by Darley.' He also was important to the tradition of illustration as it developed in the Brandywine Valley through Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth."

A self-taught artist, Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1822-1888) was born in Philadelphia. As a young man he was part of a lively arts scene that included Edgar Allan Poe, who in 1843 chose Darley-the only illustrator Poe ever hand-picked-to illustrate his short story "The Gold Bug." Darley moved to New York City in 1848, and his work began to appear in magazines such as Harper's Weekly and in books by various publishers. He illustrated works by popular authors of the day, such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Clement C. Moore and Harriet Beecher Stowe (as well as those mentioned above). Darley created lively drawings for all of Washington Irving's major novels, including Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Darley married in 1859 and moved to Claymont, Delaware, where he worked until his death in 1888 in his home-studio while finishing a portfolio of Dickens' character sketches. His Victorian mansion, now known as the Darley House, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The Magic Pencil of the Amazing F.O.C. Darley features works from the Brandywine River Museum's rich permanent collection, rarely seen prints on loan from the Darley Society, and several important works on loan from private collectors. The exhibition also includes bank notes and bonds illustrated by Darley, a sketch book from his European tour, drawings for Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers and Sylvester Judd's Margaret, as well as examples of his important historical drawings and more.

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