The Winterthur Library

The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera





Creator:††††††††† Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 1822-1888†††††††††††††††††††††††

Title:†††††††††††††† Collection

Dates:†††††††††††† 1822-1887

Call No.:†††††††† Col. 242

Acc. No.:†††††††† [various Ė see detailed description]

Quantity:††††††† 13 items

Location:††††††† 3 I 10






Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1822-1888) was mid-nineteenth century America's most popular book illustrator.Combining a European style of illustration, skilled drawing technique, and American subject matter, he attained both critical and popular success.Darley was enormously productive, publishing nearly 4000 drawings for books, periodicals, newspapers, and bank notes. With the advent of photolithography in the late nineteenth century, his style of black and white line engraving went out of fashion and he is little known today.


Darley was born in Philadelphia to a family interested in the theater and the arts.He had no formal artistic training, but taught himself by copying figures from Old Master prints and anatomical drawings. He was strongly influenced by French and English book and magazine artists, particularly John Flaxman, an English sculptor and illustrator who used a neo-classical outline style.


At the age of 14, Darley began an apprenticeship as a clerk for the Philadelphia Dispatch Transportation Line, but left four years later to begin a career as a commercial illustrator and designer. Before he was 20, Darley was appointed staff illustrator for Grahamís Ladyís and Gentlemanís Magazine, working with John Sartain, Thomas Sully, and Edgar Allen Poe. His comic, genre scenes appeared in many magazines and by the mid-1840's in popular books as well.Among his works were Washington Irving's Rip van Winkle and The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, and Sylvester Judd's Margaret.


Darley exhibited in many art exhibitions including the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Art Association and the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.Darley and his wife settled in Claymont, Delaware, just north of Wilmington, in 1859 and remained there until his death in 1888.





The collection consists of nine letters written by Darley concerning his work; two pencil sketches by Darley, including studies for bank note designs and sketches of men digging; one of his engravings ("Death of Col. Baker"); and "Illustrations of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow," designed and etched by Darley for members of the American Art Union in 1849.

††† †††††††




The letters are in one group and the illustrations in another.





Gifts and purchases from various sources.






††††††††††† Pencil drawing, American.

††††††††††† Illustration of books.

††††††††††† Illustrated children's books.

††††††††††† Correspondence.

††††††††††† Engravings.

††††††††††† Sketches.

††††††††††† Artists.


Additional title: (246)

††††††††††† ††††††††††† Legend of Sleepy Hollow.





Location: 3 I 10





66x145.2†††††† letter dated 1873 to Geo. W. Casilear, concerning a design for a Philadelphia exhibition


67x118a†††††††† letter dated 1857 to Geo. P. Putnam, concerning sending a drawing for "Washington and Lee at Monmouth"


68x114.1†††††† letter dated 1855 to Cozzens, about getting printing blocks and attending to a design


69x50††††††††††††††††††††††† part of an undated letter, listing drawings for Shakespearean plays


69x51††††††††††††††††††††††† typed letter dated 1887, to J.M. Stoddart & Company listing "models" from Shakespeare plays


75x83.1†† ††††††† letter dated 1862 to Mr. Richardson concerning choice of illustrations for the "Sketch Book"


76x119††††††††† letter dated 1880 to Houghton, Mifflin & Co. about copyright and payment


85x82.1†††††††† letter dated 1868 to Miss Bierstadt, contributing a sketch to her collection


85x82.2†††††††† letter dated 1868 to Miss Bierstadt, describing the sketch he sent as "not very sublime" and describing an illustrator's work as dealing with "a variety of subjects from Tom Thumb to Homer's Iliad".




75x83.2†††††††† pencil studies for bank note designs.Drawing shows figures loading ox cart.

††††††††††††††††††††††† on reverse: sketch of figures in medieval costumes



68x114.2 ††††††† pencil sketches of men digging with pick and digging up skull.

††††††††††††††††††††††† on reverse are sketches of men sitting at table





67x118b††††††† engraving of "Death of Col. Baker"


92x51†† †††††††††† Illustrations of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, designed and etched by F. O. C. Darley for the members of The American Art-Union, 1849



Related materials:


Copies of books with Darley's illustrations are available in the Printed Books and Periodicals Department of the Library.