Sunday, September 30, 2018

Indiana Illustrators in Puck and Life

More than a couple of Indiana illustrators did work for Puck, Judge, and the old Life humor magazines. Two of the earliest and most well known were Albert Levering (1869-1929) of Hope, Indiana, and Walter H. Gallaway (1870-1911) of Pendleton and Indianapolis. Following is some of their art.

Life, Auto Number, January 19, 1905, with cover art by Albert Levering. In addition to being an illustrator, Levering was a cartoonist. His training as an architect showed through in his precision and complete confidence in depicting buildings and machinery.

Levering may not have been right on the timing or appearance of the vehicles shown here, but he foresaw that horses would one day become pets rather than beasts of burden. Note the lap-horse held by the woman on the right. It probably won't be long before miniature horses are called "therapy animals" or "service animals" and that you'll find them sitting next to you on the plane.

Levering's cartoon portrait of Mark Twain, here used as the cover of a color insert in Life, July 13, 1905, became one of his more well-known works.

In the early 1900s, caricaturists often depicted well-known men as having big heads and little bodies. Here, with William Howard Taft, Levering did the opposite. The result is funny, though not very flattering to our heaviest of presidents.

You don't have to know who William Waldorf Astor was to gain some insight into his personality and character by way of Albert Levering's very devastating caricature from Life, 1905. 

One hundred years ago this season, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was in a bit of a pickle. His country was losing its war and he was only a few months away from abdicating his throne and fleeing to Holland. In 1905, Albert Levering caricatured him for Life, and though this portrait isn't as devastating as the one above of Astor, the artist nevertheless had his fun. Note "der Kaiser's" own self-portrait and book of poems. Note also the little cannon, which became a very big howitzer--Big Bertha--just a few years after this drawing was made. The Kaiser is just another example of how personal and psychological failings on a very individual level can have outsized effects on history and the rest of humanity. We are today still paying the price for those kinds of failings, one hundred years after the end of the Great War. 

Albert Levering was most active during the Progressive Era when trusts were seen as a great enemy and trust-busting was a favorite activity among politicians. Trusts, here disguised as corpulent girls (they're probably supposed to be caricatures of a real-life person but I don't know who that might have been) dance around a man (is he supposed to represent the public?) in a drawing captioned "A Maypolitical Party" (a somewhat clumsy pun on "Maypole Party"). The month for this issue of Puck is obvious, but I can't read the year. Sorry for the poor image. What we need, I think, is a complete and easily accessible, searchable, portable, and necessarily digital version of Puck for all to see.

Walt Gallaway did at least two covers for Puck, this one from June 26, 1901 . . .

And this one, from September 13, 1903. Note the very Hoosier-looking men with big bellies, big, unkempt beards, slouch hats, big boots, and baggy pants.

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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