There's not a lot to learn about Bill Aylward's life because not much has been documented. We know that he was born in Milwaukee, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Student's League in New York City. Along with Clifford Ashley, another famous illustrator of marine subjects, he studied with Howard Pyle. Aylward also taught at the Newark (NJ) School while illustrating for magazines such as Scribner's, Harper's, and Collier's. At the age of 43, he volunteered to go to France with the American Expeditionary Force and record their actions in World War I. However, his paintings speak for themselves. He was one of the most skillful handlers of watercolor who can be mentioned in the same breath with Winslow Homer. The following examples attempt to show his great latitude and great competence in both the knowledge of his subjects and his exquisite handling of color and brush. Click on each image to enlarge the illustration.
This is from "The Wicked 'Celestine," a story by James B. Connolly, a noted author of marine lore and history, which appeared in Scribner's Monthly Magazine for June of 1905.
A Singapore Junk at Sea, from "The Water-life Around Singapore,"from Harper's Monthly Magazine for December 1909.
This should remind you of Winslow Homer (A web search should turn up scores of examples of his work). It's from "Grim Grand Manan," an illustrated article about life on this island off the coast of Maine which appeared in Harper's Monthly Magazine for August 1912.
This is another beauty. Unfortunately, it was not printed in all four colors necessary for process color production. It's from "Harbor Voyages," which appeared in Harper's Monthly Magazine for January 1915.
This is another example of Aylward's great skill from Harper's Monthly Magazine for September 1915.
"The Boat Race at New London–A Brilliant Water Pageant," from the lead article entitiled "The Nutmeg Coast" in Harper's Monthly Magazine for September 1916.
"The Democratic Landing at Boothbay Harbor," from another lead article, "Maine and the Summer Sea," from Harper's Monthly Magazine for August 1917.
Next: More William J. Aylward.