Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sanford Tousey (1883-1961)

Thomas Sanford Tousey was born on May 28, 1883, into the wild and wooly West, into a world full of cowboys and Indians, horses and horsemen, and gents who sported big whiskers and carried pistols in their hip pockets. Growing up on a thoroughbred ranch in east Kansas must have been exciting for the future artist, but when Tousey was just eight years old, his family gave up life in the West and moved to Indiana. Throughout his childhood, Tousey returned to his great-grandfather’s ranch near the Potawatami Indian Reservation, to relive the western way of life he had left behind. He later recounted his experiences in his first children’s book, Cowboy Tommy (1932).

Sanford Tousey (as he came to call himself) graduated from high school in Anderson, Indiana, in 1902.  For two years prior, he had earned seven dollars and fifty cents per week drawing daily chalk-plate cartoons for the Anderson Morning Herald. Most of that income went towards schooling at the Art Institute of Chicago under J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) and Frederic William Goudy (1865-1941). After that, Tousey went further east, to Wilmington, Delaware, for studies under Howard Pyle (1853-1911), and to the Art Students League in New York. He finished art school in Paris and before long settled into a career as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist in New York. For the next twenty years or so, he made sales to leading popular magazines, including Ballyhoo, Collier’s, Harper’s, Judge, Liberty, Life, Puck, The Saturday Evening Post, and Scribner’s.

During the early 1930s, Tousey gave up freelancing and turned to writing and illustrating children’s books. Over forty titles followed the publication of Cowboy Tommy in 1932, most involving cowboys, Indians, horses, and the Old West. Tousey became one of the bestselling children’s book authors of his day. In addition to authoring and illustrating a series of biographies of famed westerners such as Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill, and Jim Bridger, Tousey illustrated books by others, including Boy on Horseback (1935) by Lincoln Steffens.

Tousey retired in the mid-1950s and died on June 28, 1961, at his home in Monroe, New York. His papers are at the University of Kansas.

Books by Sanford Tousey and Illustrated by Sanford Tousey
Cowboy Tommy: The Story of a Boy's Adventures on a Ranch (1932)
Cowboy Tommy's Roundup (1934)
Boy on Horseback by Lincoln Steffens (1935)
Cowboy Jimmy (1935)
Steamboat Billy (1935)
On the Golden Trail (1936)
Chinky, the Banker Pony (1937)
Jerry and the Pony Express (1937)
Whistling Bill by Florence Romaine (1937)
Chinky Joins the Circus (1938)
Daniel Boone (1939)
The Shining Mountains by Lulita Crawford Pritchett (1939)
Indians of the Plains (1940)
Stagecoach Sam (1940)
Bob and the Railroad (1941)
Ned and the Rustlers (1941, 1945)
The Northwest Mounted Police (1941)
Val Rides the Oregon Trail (1941)
Airplane Andy (1942)
Cowboys of America (1942)
Old Blue, the Cow Pony (1942, 1945)
Pack Jack Trail by Addison Talbott (1942)
Dick and the Canal Boat (1943)
Little Bear's Pinto Pony (1943)
Fred and Brown Beaver Ride the River (1944)
Trouble in the Gulch (1944)
Lumberjack Bill (1946)
Tinker Tim (1946)
Treasure Cave (1946)
Bill and the Circus (1947)
Jack Finds Gold (1947)
Davy Crockett, Hero of the Alamo (1948)
Indians and Cowboys (1948)
Kit Carson, American Scout (1949)
Toby Has a Dog by May Justus (1949)
Horseman Hal (1950)
A Pony for the Boys (1950)
Bill Clark, American Explorer (1951)
The Twin Calves (1951)
White Prince, the Arabian Horse (1951)
Cub Scout (1952)
Jim Bridger, American Frontiersman (1952)
Wild Bill Hickok, Frontier Marshal (1952)
John C. Fremont, Western Pathfinder (date unknown)

In his middle age, Tousey returned to the world of his youth, away from high society and automobiles and to the Old West. Cowboy Tommy (1932) was his first book for children. Cowboy Jimmy (1935), shown here, followed close on its heels. More than three dozen books on cowboys, horses, Indians, and explorers followed over the next two decades. If Tousey is remembered today, it is for his books for children.

Before The New Yorker came along in the 1920s, magazine cartoons typically looked like this drawing by Sanford Tousey, from Judge, circa 1910. Take away the caption (and the fanciful element) and this cartoon could be an illustration for a short story.

PuckJudge, and Life--the three great humor magazines of the time--were published in New York for a big-city, east-coast crowd. Class and money were frequent topics of the cartoons and illustrations they published. So was new technology. Sanford Tousey specialized in depicting the automobile and the comic aspects of early motoring, as in this cartoon, also from Judge, also from about 1910.

Revised and updated July 25, 2020
Text copyright 2010, 2020 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 15, 2010


"Sherlock Holmes Umpires Baseball," a spoof of the popular character, ran in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1906, illustrated either by Dok Hager (1858-1932) or his son, George Hager (1885-1945), both of whom were Hoosiers and both cartoonists.

Perhaps in answer to Sherlock Holmes, E.W. Hornung created Raffles, a "gentleman cracksman" who lived on the opposite side of the law. Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933) was the illustrator for Raffles' American editions. Hornung by the way was the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes' creator.

Turn-of-the-century humorist John Kendrick Bangs wrote comic versions of popular books and characters. A frequent collaborator was illustrator and cartoonist Albert Levering (1869-1929), who drew this picture for Mrs. Raffles (1905), Bangs' account of the adventures of Raffles' widow. Yohn drew the straight version, Levering the takeoff. Both were Hoosiers.

John McCutcheon (1870-1949) and George Ade (1866-1944) were friends and schoolmates at Purdue University. They spent much of their lives in Chicago, though, and collaborated often. Their book, Bang! Bang! (1928), recounted the investigations of boy detective J.P. Davenant, pictured here. From The Murder Book: An Illustrated History of the Detective Story (1971) by Tage la Cour and Harald Mogensen.

Astrogen Kerby, "Astro," was a different kind of detective, a palmist and fortuneteller who investigated crimes. He appeared in The Master of Mysteries by Gelett Burgess (1912), with pictures by Indiana illustrator George Brehm (1878-1966). From The Murder Book.

Finally, The Strange Case of Mason Brant by Neville Monroe Hopkins (1916) with illustrations by Gayle Porter Hoskins (1887-1962).

Captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paul Adam Wehr (1914-1973)

During the middle part of the twentieth century, one magazine and one artist dominated the look of illustration in popular magazines. The magazine was The Saturday Evening Post. The artist of course was Norman Rockwell. Countless journals had disappeared during the Great Depression and the lean years of World War II. Many others had turned to photography for their main source of illustration. The Saturday Evening Post marched ever onward, though, with art created not only by Norman Rockwell but also by a younger generation that included John Falter, Stevan Dohanos, Mead Schaeffer, and many other realists working at a time when realism was no longer the fashion in art.

Paul Adam Wehr was one of those realists. Tall, boyish, and mild mannered, Wehr was an extremely talented watercolorist and an accomplished illustrator and commercial artist. He was born on May 16, 1914, in Mount Vernon, Indiana. Encouraged by his father, Wehr entered the Herron School of Art at age nineteen and received his bachelor of fine arts in 1938. He began teaching at Herron in 1937, and in two stints at the school (1937-1946 and 1952-1954), he rose to head of the commercial art department.

After World War II, Wehr struck out on his own as a commercial artist with the Stevens-Gross Studio of Chicago. Working at home and sending his artwork by bus to Chicago, Wehr provided art to a variety of clients including Braniff Airlines, Coca-Cola, Ford, International Harvester, Libby, Parker Pens, Standard Oil, Swift, the U.S. Air Force, and he observed, “practically every brand of beer made.”  Collier’s, CoronetCountry Gentleman, Popular Mechanics, Redbook, Sports Afield, This Week, and True were among the many magazines for which he created crisp, idealized scenes of American life. It is this style, exemplified by the work of Norman Rockwell, that has given us our popular and nostalgic image of the 1940s and '50s. I'm not sure that Wehr’s work ever made its way into The Saturday Evening Post, but he was certainly of that school.  Perhaps more than anyone, he deserves the title “the Norman Rockwell of Indiana.”

Wehr’s commercial art paid the bills, but he was also a fine artist, traveling extensively and working in watercolor and casein. His large painting, “The Molders,” won him honorable mention at the Prix de Rome, held at the Grand Central Galleries in New York in 1936, while he was still a student. He won many more prizes and competitions during his near forty-year career. Paul Wehr's untimely death came on October 2, 1973, in Indianapolis. He was just fifty-nine years old.
Pictures like this were the bread and butter of magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, Collier'sLiberty,  and Coronet after World War II. Paul Wehr, with his sure hand and painstaking technique, fit right in with artists such as Norman Rockwell and Stevan Dohanos.

An example of Wehr's commercial art and proof that he could work just as well with a contemporary subject as with an image of the nostalgic past.

Wehr's commercial clients included the makers of every kind of product, including in his words, "practically every brand of beer made." Drewry's was brewed in South Bend, about as far as you can get from the artists's native Mount Vernon and still be in the Hoosier State.

Is it fine art or commercial art? The distinction isn't always clear. In any case, this painting by Paul Wehr, from an unknown date, revisits the subject of his prize-winning "Molders" from 1936.

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harry Grant Williamson (1866-1937)

Illustrator and landscapist Harry Grant Williamson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 31, 1866. He began his art studies at the Art Students’ League of Cincinnati, probably as a teenager.  He then followed the example of a group of older Hoosier artists--T.C. Steele, William Forsyth, John Ottis Adams, and Samuel Richards among them--by studying at the Royal Academy in Munich from about 1887 to 1888. From there it was on to Paris and The Hague, where Williamson became enamored of the Dutch landscape and the Dutch art that reflected it. Upon his return to his native country, Williamson enrolled at the Indiana School of Art, where he studied under Steele and Forsyth from 1891 to 1894.

In 1890, Williamson co-founded--along with Steele, Forsyth, and Adams--the Portfolio Club of Indianapolis. The club promoted art in Indianapolis with lectures, meetings, papers, and exhibits throughout the 1890s. Williamson joined his instructor, T.C. Steele, in Vernon, Indiana, in 1893 to paint landscapes. That same year, he contributed a charcoal drawing to the first issue of J.M. BowlesModern Art, published in Indianapolis. He also studied under Charles L. McDonald in Indianapolis during the mid-1890s. At about the same time, he worked as a cartoonist for the Indianapolis News.

Williamson’s love of Dutch art drew him back to The Netherlands around the middle of the 1890s. He lived there for some time before returning once again to the United States with a Dutch wife, Sara (or Sarah), and a son, Marshall. During the early 1900s, Williamson lived in New Jersey and worked as an illustrator for Harper’s, Pearson’s, The Saturday Evening Post, and Success. He illustrated or co-illustrated several books including A Son of the Sun by Jack London (1912). Williamson was a member of the Salmagundi Club and the Society of Illustrators. In later years, he painted landscapes.

Williamson died on November 9, 1937, in Edgewater, New Jersey.

So much of the interior illustration for magazine fiction during the early 1900s was done with dark, gloomy charcoal. Harry Grant Williamson's work was no exception. However, as his frontispiece for Vaiti of the Islands by Beatrice Grimshaw (1908) shows, he was capable of working nicely in color media as well.

We look upon illustration of the golden age with nostalgia, realizing that we have lost something in our headlong rush into the future. But the world that read finely made magazines also did its laundry with a tub and a washboard, as in this warm and charming picture by Williamson from 1905.

The previous picture anticipates developments in illustration for the twentieth century. This one harkens back to the nineteenth.

Copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Roy Frederic Heinrich (1881-1943)

Roy Frederic Heinrich was born on April 6, 1881, in Goshen, Indiana, and grew up in New York State. He studied at the Connecticut Art Students League under Charles Noel Flagg and Robert Bolling Brandegee and landed his first job as an artist with a Sunday newspaper. In 1910 and from a studio in Detroit, Heinrich began illustrating automobile advertisements for Graham-Paige, Hudson, Packard, Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, and Cadillac, making him among the earliest artists in his field. He worked for other advertising clients as well, including General Electric, Zenith Carburetor Company, and Guardian Trust Company. Heinrich enjoyed most a series of one hundred historical illustrations of life in Vermont, created for and published in book form by the National Life Insurance Company of Montpelier. These drawings went on display in New York and New England and were a highlight of the Vermont building at the New York World’s Fair in 1939-1940. Among his memberships were the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Club. Heinrich and his wife, Ruth L. Heinrich, were married in 1929. Heinrich died in 1943, probably in New York City.

Roy Frederic Heinrich may have created straightforward black-and-white drawings of automobiles, as this advertisement for General Motors trucks shows. . .

but he was no stranger to color, the conceptual approach, or depictions of the human form either.

Heinrich worked during the heyday of art deco advertising and illustration. You would hardly guess that this is an ad for Holland Vaporaire Heating.

An effective two-color advertisement combining a mythological figure and modern technology, an art deco image and up-to-date advertising copy.

Copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


At the fin de si├Ęcle, artists in popular magazines tried to visualize life in the twentieth century. Albert Levering (1869-1929), trained as an architect but with the mind of a cartoonist, excelled at humorous depictions of the future. This drawing appeared on the back cover of Puck, the humor magazine, on October 7, 1908.

Lucille Webster Holling (1900-1989) may not have been as well known as her husband (children's book author and illustrator Holling Clancy Holling), but as this travel poster shows, she was a talented artist in her own right. (Update, June 11, 2014: This image is not in fact a travel poster but an illustration from Kimo: The Whistling Boy by Alice Cooper Bailey (1928). You can read more about the artist here.)

Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933) began his career as an illustrator of historical scenes for slick magazines such as Scribner's. Near the end, he painted pictures like this one for pulp magazines.

"Gretta" was Joseph Clemens Gretter (1904-1988), an illustrator of children's books, including Wing for Wing by Thomas Burtis (1932). Here are the endpapers for the book.

The cover of Adventure magazine from November 1911, created by Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960?).

Justin Gruelle (1889-1978) painted his "Early Birds Mural" in the early 1940s. After many travels and travails, the mural has finally come to rest at the Indiana Historical Society in the artist's birthplace of Indianapolis.

Captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, October 11, 2010

Max Francis Klepper (1861-1907)

Max Francis Klepper was born in Zeitz, Germany, on March 1, 1861, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1876. Klepper lived in Logansport, Indiana, between about 1876 and 1879. He studied under Robert Swain, an artist about whom little is known, and was apprenticed to a lithography firm in Chicago. In 1877, at the age of sixteen, Klepper advertised himself as an artist in the Logansport city directory. He exhibited at the first major art show in his hometown and specialized in landscapes as a young man. In 1880 his ambition to be an illustrator carried him away to New York.

Klepper attended the Art Students League in New York and the Royal Academy in Munich from 1887 to 1889. As an art student he wandered over the Rhine country and the Tyrol to paint and study scenery. He also took a course at the Munich Veterinary College, an experience that helped him in his artist’s handling of horses and other animals. Back in the United States, Klepper exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1891 and contributed illustrations to The Century, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Monthly, Harper’s Weekly, Outing, Scribner’s and other magazines over the next decade and more. Animals--horses in particular--were his specialty, an essential skill for an illustrator of scenes of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the Boer War. Klepper also illustrated several books during the early 1900s, including Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories by Hermon Lee Ensign (1901), The War in South Africa by Capt. A.T. Mahan (1901), On the We-a Trail: A Story of the Great Wilderness by Hoosier novelist Caroline Brown (aka Caroline Krout) (1903), and The Baseball Boys of Lakeport by Edward Stratemeyer (1908).

Klepper died at home in Brooklyn, New York, on May 5, 1907. He was just forty-six years old.

Any picture you find now created by Max F. Klepper is almost sure to include horses, his specialty from the 1890s onward. This illustration is from an unknown magazine from about 1900-1905.

Klepper's skill with horses and the sporting life earned him entry into high society, even if it was just as an observer. Top: "In the Riding School" from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1891, a wood engraving. Bottom: "Tennis and Polo at Newport" from Harper's Weekly, ca. 1890s, a photogravure.

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Virginia Keep Clark (1878-1962)

Virginia Keep Clark had a long and varied career in art and society. Descended from William Brewster, a Pilgrim of the Plymouth Colony, she was well connected by family and friendship. Born in New Orleans, she made her home in the Midwest and on the East Coast, studying under some of the most well-known art teachers of her day and creating portraits of everyone from poor girls to women of high society. She was a teacher of children and wounded men, an illustrator and a painter, a wife and a hostess, a friend to many, well loved and well remembered. Through her illustrations for Josephine Scribner Gates’ Live Dolls series of books, she is still loved and remembered by collectors of children’s literature.

Virginia Hynson Keep was born on February 17, 1878, in New Orleans to Charles B. and Katherine “Katie” Hynson Keep. Her father may have died when she was quite young, for when she was a toddler, her mother married Aretas Wallace Hatch, who moved his new wife and four-year-old stepdaughter to Indianapolis. Virginia Keep attended public school, but her formal education in art began under Mary Yandes Robinson, a children’s art teacher, and continued at the Indiana School of Art under William Forsyth. From there it was on to New York and the Art Students League, where she studied under Kenyon Cox, J. Carroll Beckwith, and Walter Appleton Clark, and the Chase School of Art, founded by and named for another Hoosier, William Merritt Chase. She studied briefly with Howard Pyle and alternated between New York and Indianapolis for several years. While in Indianapolis, Virginia Keep taught children’s art classes at the Herron School of Art between 1902 and 1906.

At the outset of her career, Keep specialized in drawing women and children.  She probably got her start  in 1901 with her illustrations for A Fearsome Riddle by Indiana author Max Ehrmann and The Story of Live Dolls and More About Live Dolls by Josephine Scribner Gates. At least nine more books in the Live Dolls series followed over the next decade. Other  work for Indiana authors included her decorations for An Old Sweetheart of Mine by James Whitcomb Riley (1902) and her illustrations--along with Maxfield Parrish and others--for Troubadour Tales by Evaleen Stein (1903). Her drawings for Ehrmann’s book, done in gloomy half-tone, are in sharp contrast to Keep’s later work--with one exception. A scene with a woman and a child is bright and delicate, an indication of what she was to accomplish with the Live Dolls series and other books.

Things changed for the young artist in 1906 when she married Marshall John Clark, scion of a prominent Chicago family. Although her new husband was supportive of her career, Keep left Indianapolis for his home in Evanston, Illinois. Keep opened a portrait studio in Chicago in 1908. At some point, she shared it with Cecil Clark, first cousin to her husband, wife of Richard Harding Davis, and a self-taught painter of considerable skill. In 1911 Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida visited the Art Institue of Chicago and--impressed with the quality of student Ethel Coe’s work--extended an invitation to Coe and two fellow artists to follow him to his home country. Coe chose Virginia Keep and Lucy Taggart as her traveling companions, and the three enjoyed a season in Europe drawing and painting under the tutelage of an Old World artist. Keep also studied for a summer under Cecilia Beaux, a prominent portraitist, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1916.

According to her friend Lucy Taggart, Virginia Keep was never without a sketchbook. Throughout her career, she drew and painted wherever she went, in New York and New England, Maryland and Florida, Haiti and the Bahamas. Although she started out as an illustrator, Keep was most well known in her lifetime as a portraitist and took active commissions until 1946. Among her subjects were Elizabeth Harrison, daughter of Benjamin Harrison; members of Indiana’s Ball family; artist Charles Prendergast; and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.

Keep and her husband moved from Chicago to New York during the early 1920s. They divided their time between a Manhattan home chock-full of servants and a summer home called “Windy Meadow” on Oyster Bay in Long Island. They moved again to Maryland and Connecticut before settling in Florida in 1942. During World War II, Virginia Keep taught painting to convalescing soldiers. At war’s end, she was of an age to retire, but it's hard to believe that she would have given up drawing and painting. Keep died on September 13 or 14, 1962, in Winter Park, Florida. She was survived by her husband, Marshall Clark, and laid to rest in the Evergreen Cemetery in Marion, Massachusetts, in her husband’s family plot, in the town where they had kept a summer home, and not very far from where her ancestor, William Brewster, first arrived in America.

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library held an exhibit on Josephine Scribner Gates and her Live Dolls series this summer (ending in Aug. 2010).  The library also showed some of Virginia Keep's original art from its own collection.

Tiffany Benedict Berkson of Indianapolis has done a good deal of research on Virginia Keep Clark's life and career and has posted some of it on her own blog. Some of the information here comes from her efforts, and I thank her for it.

Virginia Keep's "Indiana Girl"--perhaps her answer to Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl"--from about 1903. The image here is from a newspaper microfilm and can only hint at the quality of the original.

The cover of The Live Dolls' House Party by Josephine Scribner Gates, illustrated by Virginia Keep (1906).

Two of Virginia Keep's interior illustrations. She never had any of her own children. Nevertheless, her drawings of women and children are full of warmth, tenderness, and sensitivity.

Note: My source for Virginia Keep's descent from William Brewster is from an unsubstantiated claim in the discussion section of AskArt. A reader who has done a great deal of research on Virginia Keep has never found evidence of that descent. If anyone can confirm or discount it, please let me know. March 9, 2011.

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Charles Hubbard Wright (1870-1939)

Charles Hubbard Wright was born on November 20, 1870, in Knightstown, Indiana, and studied at the Art Students League in New York, where he lived and worked for most of his life. By age twenty-five, Wright had made a name for himself as a poster artist, or enough for a mention in Charles Hiatt's Picture Posters, which was printed in London in 1895. In addition to drawing black-and-white cartoons for Judge magazine, Wright was a fine artist who worked in oil and watercolor. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators, New Rochelle Art Association, Salmagundi Club, New York Water Color Club, and Guild of Free Lance Artists. He exhibited with the Art Institute of Chicago and the Society of Independent Artists. Little else is known of his life or career. Wright died in 1939.

A poster design by Charles Hubbard Wright, probably from the late 1890s or thereabouts.

A line of bathing beauties from Judge magazine of the 1910s . . .
and a historical scene perhaps from sometime later, beautifully done despite the subject matter.

Copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Herbert Moore (1881-1943)

Herbert Moore was one of only a few Indiana artists to study under famed illustrator Howard Pyle or to go into show business. He was born on May 1, 1881, in Indianapolis, and attended Manual Training High School, a new institution whose purpose was to teach manual arts to Indianapolis students. Moore created a fountain, his first important work of art, for the school while he was a student. He would return to work in three dimensions later in life.

In 1904 Moore left home for New York and its Art Students League, where he studied under F.V. DuMond and Louis Loeb. An exhibit of Moore’s decorative work caught the attention of visiting lecturer Howard Pyle (1853-1911), who invited the young artist to come study with him. In December 1905, Moore joined P.V.E. Ivory, E. Roscoe Shrader, Harvey Dunn, Remington Schuyler, Sidney Chase, and George Dubois at Pyle’s famed school for illustrators in Wilmington, Delaware.

Between 1905 and 1909, Moore lived at the school, but in 1909 or 1910, he moved, along with Ivory, Shrader, and W.H.D. Koerner, to Naamans-on-Delaware, a historic house in nearby Clayton. Now called the Robinson House, Naamans housed Pyle’s students between about 1907 and 1914. Pyle died during that time and his school closed down. One by one, “the four horsemen of Naamans,” as Shrader later called them, went their separate ways. Shrader departed for California and a post with the Otis Art Institute in 1917. Koerner, married and with two children, set up a house and studio in Interlake, New Jersey, in 1919. Ivory moved to New York City in 1918 to be closer to its many publishers. By the end of the decade, Moore was in New York City as well, probably for the same reason.

Like other members of Pyle’s Brandywine school of artists, Moore illustrated stories of great drama and heroism from history and the Bible. His magazine clients included The Delineator, Harper’s, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Woman’s Home Companion. Moore and Shrader illustrated two books together, Stories from the Old Testament for Children by Harriet S. Blaine Beale (1907) and The Men Who Found America by Frederick Winthrop Hutchinson (1909). In later years, Moore worked with George Watson Barratt (1884-1962), another of Pyle’s students and one who enjoyed a long career in the theater, as a designer on Broadway. Moore’s own shows as a scenic designer included Angel Face (1919), The Sweetheart Shop (1920), Growing Pains (1933), and Night of January 16 (1935). Night of January 16, a courtroom drama written by Ayn Rand, is noteworthy for having drawn members of the audience to act as jurors in the play. Their verdict determined its outcome. The innovation made the play a hit, and it lasted 235 performances.

Moore turned fifty-five shortly after Night of January 16 closed. He may have continued to work in the arts scene in New York, for his address in 1942 was 1044 Madison Avenue, in the same neighborhood as several art museums and galleries. Herbert Moore died the following year, but the date is unknown.

One of Herbert Moore's illustrations from The Men Who Found America by Frederick Winthrop Hutchinson (1909). The subject of course is the valiant Sir Walter Raleigh and his queen. Howard Pyle's influence is clear and unmistakable.

A second illustration from the same book, and a quite different composition, showing Pizarro on the verge of destroying the Incas. Bright red and brilliant yellow foreshadow the violence and madness to come.

And a third illustration from Hutchinson's book. This time the explorer is Ferdinand de Soto. His pose is similar to Pizarro's, but there isn't any line to cross as in the previous picture. The weary explorer has reached his destination, a gray-green expanse of ocean.

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, October 2, 2010

John Dukes McKee (1899-1956)

John Dukes McKee, one of the Hoosier State's fine unsung illustrators, created works of great charm, warmth, and nostalgia during a career that proved too brief. He was born in Kokomo, Indiana, on December 4, 1899, and studied at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Paris. The earliest of McKee's work that I have found is a series of one-page illustrations for Child Life magazine published from 1926 to 1932. McKee also drew pictures for children's books, including Big and Little Brother by Gustav Av Geijerstam (1930), Circus Babies by Elizabeth Gale (1930), and The Big Show by Mary Baskerville (1932). Other Worlds Than This by Elena Fontany (1930) is worth special mention for its early depiction--at least in children's literature--of a trip into space, albeit by way of a monoplane that looks very much like The Spirit of St. Louis. By the time he drew the pictures for Miss Fontany's book, McKee had already begun working in a black-and-white style harking back to an era when illustrators labored over woodcuts and type was set by hand. He may well have been influenced by Gaar Williams (1880-1935), an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago, a fellow Hoosier, and fervent in his attachment to days gone by.

After World War II, McKee became a self-described "purveyor of nostalgia," creating historical illustrations for advertising agencies and publishers. Often working in scratchboard, a medium mimicking the look of the old-time woodcut, McKee drew pictures for books on history and folklore, including My American Heritage, compiled by Ralph Henry and Lucille Pannell (1949), and American Riddles in Rhyme by Ruby Bradford Murphy (1955). Lucky Year (1951), written by Dorothy Aldis and illustrated by McKee, is set in the artist's home state. Although McKee often signed his work with his full name, he was also "Mr. McKee" to readers of children's books and magazines. Mister McKee created a charming piece of artwork for the cover of the children’s magazine Treasure Trails for October 1955. His colorful rocketship was a far cry from the monoplane of twenty-five years before. (See below.)

In 1949 the Illinois Northern Utilities Company commissioned McKee to paint fifty northern Illinois landmarks. Crisscrossing the state in search of old railroad cars, schoolhouses, and windmills, McKee captured the prairie landscape in luminous, vibrant watercolor. His colorful and impeccably done landscapes and genre paintings also showed up in Ford Times magazine during the early 1950s.

McKee apparently lived in the Chicago area for much of his life. He died too young, at age fifty-six, on June 25, 1956, in Lagrange, Illinois, leaving a widow, two daughters, and three grandchildren behind. McKee's great granddaughter, artist Harmony Eberhardt, is archiving his work. You can find some of his original art at the Batavia Public Library in Batavia, Illinois.

An activity page, one of John Dukes McKee's specialties, from Child Life magazine (1931).

One of McKee's historical illustrations, a scratchboard drawing of the Illinois-Michigan Canal. This drawing is from the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Mail delivery on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, as depicted by John Dukes McKee in Ford Times magazine, Oct. 1950.

Treasure Trails, The Magazine of the Children's Hour, from October 1955, with a cover by "Mister McKee."

Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley