Marooned, 1909
Howard Pyle (1853-1911)
Oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches
Delaware Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1912

Pyle’s ability to tell a story within the confines of a canvas is nowhere more evident than in this deceptively simple painting,Marooned. Pirate communities were primarily cooperative and democratic, not a bunch of lawless desperadoes. Marooning was an acceptable punishment for a member of the crew who had violated the pirate’s code. The searing heat and parched landscape conveyed by the acidic tones detailing sky and earth encapsulate the sailor’s loneliness having been cast-off his ship. The only lively elements of the composition are the slight flutter of waves breaking in the background at the edge of the land and the ascending flock of birds to the right.