Some biographic information about Crowley from Martin Birnbaum’s “The Last Romatic”

"While busy with Mahonri Young's exhibition, Mrs. Mary Mow- 
bray Clarke, the founder of the fascinating bookshop called The 
Sunwise Turn, introduced me to Herbert Edmund Crowley, a 
young Englishman who had studied singing with Sbriglia who 
taught the De Reszkes and Nordica; those who heard Crowley sing 
declare that he might have developed into a distinguished singer 
of ballads. Finally, however, Crowley gave up a tenor's career and 
the visual arts won his undivided allegiance. For a short time he 
went to the Academy in Paris, but soon found that they had 
little to teach him there. His family was not sympathetic and re- 
fused to finance his art training, so he went to work in the mines 
and banana plantations of Costa Rica. He had bitter economic 
struggles, until he began his professional artistic life, virtually an 
auto-didakt, by creating quaint comic strips for the New York 
Herald. These were called, if I remember rightly, the "Wiggle- 
much Series/' This newspaper work, some of which is preserved in 
the archives of the Metropolitan Museum, reveals a rich vein of 
Celtic humor and imagination. When he made his debut in our 
gallery, with more serious drawings, his equipment as a draftsman 
was already so remarkable that I could think of no one who 
boasted of a technique that could create a drawing like his gossa- 
mer Palace of Dreams, an example of indefatigable power of 
concentration produced in fourteen months, often working sixteen 
hours a day. It might be called a collage because the topmost 
tower of his architectural phantasy is surmounted by a sparkling 
diamond, symbol of indissoluble life radiating light, inserted in 
the thick Whatman paper on which the palace is drawn. Has any 
artist but Daniel Vierge ever drawn more delicately with pen and 
ink? Everybody agreed that Crowley's works, many of which were 
produced in a remote corner of the Ramapo Hills, at Pomona, 
bore the imprint of an unusual personality and often the earmarks 
of genius. They were dream images, mysterious, refined and 
flawless. Discussing the importance of dreams, he said to me: 
"Hoping that dreams will happen has nothing to do with dreams. A dream cannot happen. A dream is. It seems to me that we are made up of three parts: the circumference, the centre and the space in between. The circumference combats evil; the centre is the conclusion we come to from that combat; the space in between consists of conclusions purified. From this space in between arises a cone-shaped figure of vibrating truth which rises higher and higher as experience comes to us. From this combat of good and evil, dreams are born. Life cannot exist without the dream. The dream cannot exist without life. Developed life develops the dream. The finer the conclusions, the purer the life and the dreams. The purer the dreams the purer the life to come." Besides his drawings, Crowley created some small imaginary animals in coloured plaster, ceramic and bronze, and these were moulded with a professional knowledge of anatomy, but their cor- rectness was subsidiary to the meaning of the image. Had he lived in a medieval period he would undoubtedly have found scope for his talents by decorating churches and monasteries with gargoyles like those on Notre Dame in Paris. Unfortunately, we cannot trace many of these fragile works. One of them, entitled The Rent is Paid, is set into the plaster over the kitchen door of Mrs. Mary Mowbray Clarke's home in Pomona, where many of Crowley's works saw the light. Only a few were cast in bronze and these display a curious undercurrent of human passions, reminding one of the strange insects of Behmer and Theodore Heine, and the wonderful caricatures and satires of Rowlandson and Hieronymus Bosch. Crowley had difficulty in coping with the life of our time. The meticulous order, precision and exactness of his work was a kind of apotropaic measure to protect himself from overpowering forces of evil. What he produced came through as if he were a medium, and while at work his hand at times seemed under a pe- culiar psychic control. Rarest among his works were oil paintings and experiments in light and color. One picture in particular of a lonely Dantesque figure, wandering and meditating in a dark wood suffused with a beautiful deep twilight blue, is worthy of the best moments of the distinguished American painter, Albert Ryder. Fortunately Crow- ley's picture is well painted and shows none of the signs of ultimate disintegration from which many of Ryder's works suffer. His exhibition won high praise from men of taste. His Celtic wit which cropped out of most of his creations made one think that careful research into his ancestry would reveal an Irish gnome or pixie clinging like a Rackham or Segantini creature to the branches of his family tree. His letters were very amusing, and I regret not re- printing them. After his exhibition and just when I began to pride myself on having introduced a salient figure into our art world, Herbert Crowley suddenly disappeared. Only after I retired did I discover that he had enlisted in the camouflage division of the British Army. In 1926 he married Miss Alice Lewisohn who, with her sister Irene, had founded the remarkable Neighborhood Playhouse on Grand Street, New York, an admirable account of which was written by Mrs. Crowley. It was always an artistic adventure to go downtown with such friends as Maurice Sterne, Henry McBride, and Loeser of Florence, to see performances there. The Crowley s left for Europe, where Herbert died in 1939, at the age of sixty-six. "

-- Martin Birnbaum, pp. 66 - 69 "The Last Romantic: The Story of More Than a
Half-Century in the World of Art" Published 1960, Twayne Publishers
From Rabindranath Tagore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabindranath_Tagore) to Herbert Crowley - an excerpt from Tagore’s “The Gardener” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6686/6686-h/6686-h.htm) —
"With days of hard travail I raised a temple. It had no doors or windows, its walls were thickly built with massive stones. I forgot all else, I shunned all the world, I gazed in rapt contemplation at the image I had set upon the altar. It was always night inside, and lit by the lamps of perfumed oil. The ceaseless smoke of incense wound my heart in its heavy coils. Sleepless, I carved on the walls fantastic figures in mazy bewildering lines—winged horses, flowers with human faces, women with limbs like serpents. No passage was left anywhere through which could enter the song of birds, the murmur of leaves or hum of the busy village. The only sound that echoed in its dark dome was that of incantations which I chanted. My mind became keen and still like a pointed flame, my senses swooned in ecstasy. I knew not how time passed till the thunderstone had struck the temple, and a pain stung me through the heart."

From Rabindranath Tagore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabindranath_Tagore) to Herbert Crowley - an excerpt from Tagore’s “The Gardener” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6686/6686-h/6686-h.htm) —

"With days of hard travail I raised a temple. It had no doors or windows, its walls were thickly built with massive stones. I forgot all else, I shunned all the world, I gazed in rapt contemplation at the image I had set upon the altar. It was always night inside, and lit by the lamps of perfumed oil. The ceaseless smoke of incense wound my heart in its heavy coils. Sleepless, I carved on the walls fantastic figures in mazy bewildering lines—winged horses, flowers with human faces, women with limbs like serpents. No passage was left anywhere through which could enter the song of birds, the murmur of leaves or hum of the busy village. The only sound that echoed in its dark dome was that of incantations which I chanted. My mind became keen and still like a pointed flame, my senses swooned in ecstasy. I knew not how time passed till the thunderstone had struck the temple, and a pain stung me through the heart."

Example of one of the very-difficult-to-read letters written by Herbert Crowley. I find I can decipher approximately 30% - 50% of his handwriting.  Anyone else want to give it a try? There are a fair amount of these letters, and it would be a real treat to get clear transcriptions of them!

Example of one of the very-difficult-to-read letters written by Herbert Crowley. I find I can decipher approximately 30% - 50% of his handwriting.  Anyone else want to give it a try? There are a fair amount of these letters, and it would be a real treat to get clear transcriptions of them!