Felix Octavius Carr Darley

(23 June 1822 - 27 March 1888)

Often credited as F. O. C. Darley; an American painter in watercolor and illustrator, known for his illustrations in works by well-known 19th century authors, including: James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Mary Maples Dodge, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, George Lippard, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Donald Grant Mitchell, Clement Clarke Moore, Frances Parkman, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Parker Willis.

Darley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a self-taught and prolific artist who started out as a staff artist for a Philadelphia publishing company where he was given a wide variety of assignments.

After moving to New York, his work began to appear in magazines such as Harper's Weekly and in books by various publishers. Darley made 500 drawings for Lossing's History of the United States. Among his lithographic illustrations are those for Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", and some scenes in Indian life. The swing and vigor of his style, his facility, and versatility and the high average merit of his numerous works, make him one of the most noteworthy of American illustrators.

Darley signed a contract with Edgar Allan Poe on January 31, 1843, to create original illustrations for his upcoming literary journal The Stylus. The contract, which was through July 1, 1844, requested at least three illustrations per month, "on wood or paper as required," but no more than five, for $7 per illustration The Stylus was never actually produced but Darley provided illustrations for the final installments of the first serial publication of Poe's award-winning tale "The Gold-Bug" later that year.

In 1848, Darley provided the drawings for the first fully illustrated edition of Irving's "Rip Van Winkle", which was printed and distributed by the American Art-Union. That same year, Darley also illustrated an edition of Irving's 'The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent'' and then his 'Wolfert's Roost' in 1855. Over his career, he produced nearly 350 drawings for James Fenimore Cooper, later collected in a several-volume edition of Cooper's novels printed from 1859 to 1861. In 1868 he published, after a visit to Europe, 'Sketches Abroad with Pen and Pencil.' His water color paintings of incidents in American history are full of spirit and his bank-note vignettes are also worthy of mention. In 1851, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary member, and became a full Academician in 1852.

Darley died in his home in Claymont, Delaware, and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His Victorian mansion, located in Claymont, is now known as the Darley House and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

[Gilman, D.C.; Thurston, H.T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). F. O. C. Darley; New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.).
Mr. Darley Mrs. Darley


Darley, Felix O. C., N. A. (American) Born in Philadelphia, 1822. Early displayed a taste for art, but had no regular art education. Alter leaving school he followed mercantile pursuits in his native city, executing wood-cuts for a Philadelphia pictorial journal during his leisure hours. He was engaged by the American Art Union about 1848 to engrave (his now so well known) outline illustrations of living's Works, which brought him at once into notice as a clever and original draughtsman. He has furnished illustrations for some of the finest and most valuable editions of the standard English and American authors, Cooper, Dickens, Hawthorne, etc., while among his larger and more pretentious works are, "Washington's Entry into New York," "The First Blow for Liberty," "Foraging in Virginia," "Giving Comfort to the Enemy," "Emigrants attacked by Indians " (painted for and belonging to Prince Napoleon), "Scene in the Streets of Rome" (in a private collection in Boston). Many of the original drawings for the Dickens illustrations belong to Mr. Houghton, of the publishing-house for which they were drawn. Mr. Darley was elected full member of the Academy of Design in 1852; he is a member of the Artists' Fund Society, and was one of the early members of the American Society of Painters in Water-Colors. His work, however, is almost exclusively in black and white, and his reputation was fully established in his own country before he visited others. During his European travels his pencil lias never been idle, and he has brought home with him many valuable sketches of character, as well as of picturesque scenery and architecture. He is an annual exhibitor at the Academy. Among his later works are, "Puritans surprised by Indians," "The School Boy," "The March to the Sea," "The Sheepfold " (belonging to the National Academy), "Feeding the Pets," "Mount Desert," and "A Cold Snack." His "Cavalry Charge at Fredericksburg, Va." (belonging to W. T. Blodgett) was at the Paris Exposition of 1867.

"Darley is a proline artist in designs of the homely, pathetic, ami-humorous, -- strongly individualistic, in the American sense, but with a heavy, monotonous stroke of pencil and commonness of human type which gives to his composition! an almost uniform sameness of style and character. Nevertheless, he has great facility and vigor, a knowledge of drawing, intensenest of execution, skill and capacity of realistic illustration, wliich stamp him as a remarkable man." -- Jarves, Art Id'".

"The peculiar skill and readineat of Darley's pencil has unavoidably enlisted it in numerous casual enterprises, from a vignette on bank-notes to a political caricature for a comic paper.

Darley has made a study of American subjects, and linds therein a remarkable range, from the beautiful to the grotesque, as is manifest when his drawings are compared. It is rare for the same hand to deal so aptly with the graceful and the pensive, so vigorously with the characteristic, and so broadly with the humorous, and exhibit an equal facility and felicity in true literal transcript and in fanciful conception." -- Tuckerman's Book of the Artists.

"Darley's 'Illustrations of Margaret' have been pronounced, by competent foreign critics, as the best outline, for expression, grace, and significance, since those of Retzch." -- Dr. Francis, in Old New York.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century and their Works. A Handbook containing Biographical Sketches; By Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.]