Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Charles Mills Sheldon (1866-1928)

Charles Mills Sheldon was born on June 24, 1866, in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, but he lived in Des Moines, Iowa, as a child and studied art in New York City under William Merritt Chase. In 1889, Sheldon made a trip through the American South, illustrating a series of articles for the Associated Press. It would be the start of a long and adventurous career in journalism.

The 1890s were a busy decade for Charles Sheldon. First came studies in Paris under Benjamin Jean-Joseph Constant, Jules Joseph Lefebvre, and Henri Doucet in 1890-1891. Next came work as an illustrator for London’s Pall Mall Budget (1892-1895) and as a correspondent for Black and White. Sheldon spent the middle part of the decade in South Africa and the Sudan, but he took time out to marry Grace Garland Fitch in London on November 26, 1896. Eighteen ninety-eight found Sheldon in Cuba covering the Spanish-American War for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Black and White.

Assignment followed on assignment as the Victorian era ended and the new century began. Sheldon illustrated To Herat and Cabul: A Story of the First Afghan War by G.A. Henty (1901). He continued covering major world events in Egypt, South Africa, India, and elsewhere.  During World War I, he was a correspondent for British magazines and the Associated Press.

Charles Mills Sheldon died in London in 1928. One of his paintings, depicting a meeting between Colonel James Mcleod and Chief Crowfoot, hangs in the lobby of the Palliser Hotel in Calgary, Alberta. His papers are located at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Charles Mills Sheldon spent much of his career in England--or in any case in the British Empire. Here he depicts the Royal Navy's "nerve centre," the First Sea Lord's Room, and two of its planners, Sir Eric Geddes and Sir Rosslyn Wemyss.

Sheldon made his living as a correspondent, often in war zones. War was a frequent subject in his art. However, he also created illustrations of historical and biblical scenes, as here, and portraits of beautiful women.

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

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