Born in Philadelphia, Felix Darley lived and worked first in New York City, and, after his 1859 marriage, in Claymont, Delaware, producing drawings for prints, magazines, and more than 200 books. These included such best-selling works as Washington Irving's Sketchbook (1848) and Knickerbocker History of New York (1850), as well as novels by James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Darley's works were reproduced as lithographs and wood and steel engravings. He was also known for his pen and ink drawings, such as The Squatter's Death. Darley's lively drawings of scenes from history and literature made him a well-known early American book illustrator. He was one of the first artists to specialize in this field. Darley's outstanding work inspired other draftsmen and set new standards in the period after 1840.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]