Photograph of Charles Archibald MacLellan, c. 1910. Students of Howard Pyle Files, Helen Farr Sloan Library, Delaware Art Museum
Charles Archibald MacLellan
Date: American painter, illustrator, 1887–1961
Biography: Charles Archibald MacLellan was born in Trenton, Ontario, in 1887, and moved to Chicago when he was six or seven. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where his fellow students included Harvey Dunn, E. Roscoe Schrader, Edward A. Wilson, and Gayle Hoskins. After two and a half years of study there, he took a position with an engraving firm and later opened his own studio. In Chicago he did a few designs for stained glass and a great deal of advertising and poster work for the Marshall Field and Co. department store. His career as an illustrator began in Chicago with cover work for magazines.

In late 1909 or early 1910 MacLellan and Edward Wilson, friends since boyhood, recalling the inspiration they had received from Howard Pyle’s lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905, decided to move to Wilmington to attend Pyle’s weekly lectures and benefit from his instruction. MacLellan occupied one of the Pyle studios at 1305 N. Franklin Street from 1910 until his death. In 1926 he received special permission to enter the professional class at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied still life and life painting, apparently in preparation for taking up easel painting. About 1930, MacLellan began to have trouble with his eyes and gave up illustration to concentrate on portraiture and figure studies. He also became an expert on early American furniture, organizing an exhibition for the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts in 1926 and serving as an advisor and agent for Henry Francis du Pont in the formation of the Winterthur Museum collections as well as in the formation of other private collections. MacLellan was also one of the Studio Group teachers from 1943 to 1958.

MacLellan specialized in magazine covers. His work until about 1920 was largely of a broadly humorous nature — naughty children or domestic scenes — done in a vignette style. After 1920 his covers tended to be “pretty girl” subjects.

During his career in Wilmington, MacLellan was chairman of a 1926 exhibition presented by the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts entitled "Early American Furniture." He was also a member of the Accessions Committee at the Society from 1943 until 1958, and he taught at the Studio Group, located at Howard Pyle’s old studio, from 1943 until his death in 1961. After his death, a memorial exhibition of 33 of his works was held at 1305 North Franklin Street, from December 3 through December 17, 1961.

Source: Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth Hawkes, editors. A Small School of Art: The Students of Howard Pyle (Delaware Art Museum, 1980)