Friday, May 6, 2011

Arthur Sinclair Covey (1877-1960)

Arthur Sinclair Covey was born on June 13, 1877, in Leroy, Illinois, and was reared in Missouri and in El Dorado, Kansas.  In 1893, Covey "made the run" with the opening of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma. He followed up a year at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, with art studies in Chicago, Paris, and Munich between 1897 and 1908.

Living in Indianapolis at the turn of the century, Covey drew pictures for the Indianapolis Press before moving on to the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1901. He provided illustrations for magazines, including a series of covers for The American Magazine, during the early part of the century, but he found his life's work in painting murals. His first individual commission was for the Wichita Public Library in 1914. Perhaps his best known series is at the Kohler Company offices in Kohler, Wisconsin. That series, completed in 1921-1922, is the subject of a fine article in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, Winter 2009-2010.

Covey married artists in succession. His first wife, Mary Dorothea Sale (d. 1917), was a British citizen and a student of Frank Brangwyn in London, as Covey himself was between 1905 and 1908. In 1921, Covey married Lois Lenski (1893-1974), a children's book author and illustrator famous for her Mr. Small series. In 1928, the couple bought an eighteenth-century house in Harwinton, Connecticut. Called "Greenacres," it would be their home for the rest of Arthur S. Covey's life. One of his last major works was the ceiling of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, executed in 1951 when he was seventy-four years old. Covey died nearly a decade later, on February 5, 1960.

"The Run," a lithograph by Arthur Sinclair Covey showing the run on the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma, 1893, in which the artist took part.
"Work," an etching by Covey which appeared in the Sunday Magazine of the Sunday Star, Washington, D.C., August 31, 1913.
A drawing by Covey on the subject of work. It may be a study for a mural, but I don't know the date of the drawing.
Covey's second wife was author and illustrator Lois Lenski. Every child who grew up between the 1930s and the 1970s remembers her Mr. Small series, of which there were ten titles. Policeman Small (1962) was the last.

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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