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Artistic Ideals and Commercial Practices: The Problem of Status for American Illustrators

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2009

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American illustration occupies an anomalous position in art history. Its proponents celebrate its brief but glorious history, a “Golden Age”, lasting roughly from 1880 to 1930. It is a history with a definite, limited chronology, determined by issues of quality and stylistic development and focused on the achievements of a few individuals. Others, however, regard American illustration as a minor episode in the history of art; many consider it to be beneath consideration as serious art. Yet there has been little analysis of why American illustration is considered so marginal or of why to this day the question of whether illustration is a fine art has not been resolved.

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Research Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1990

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References

NOTES

Author's note: Research for this article was supported by a Benno M. Forman Fellowship from the Winterthur Museum and by a Faculty Summer Fellowship from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I would like to thank for their generous assistance Roland Elzea, Elizabeth H. Hawkes, and Iris Snyder, the Delaware Art Museum; Ruth Bassett, Brandywine River Museum; Katharine Martinez and Neville Thompson, Winterthur Museum; Helen Farr Sloan; Walt Reed, Illustration House; Fred Taraba, Society of Illustrators; and Wendy Katkin, S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook. This article is part of a book-length study of the relationship between fine and commercial art in the first half of the 20th Century.

1. Commercialism, although a crucial issue in illustration, has remained relatively unexplored. Until recently, art historical discourse avoided any reference to the fact that an artist might have had commercial interests in mind. Scholars now, on the other hand, readily accept such concerns as relevant to the study of artistic production. Some have observed that book and magazine illustration were themselves commercial art, executed primarily as selling devices. And a few have attributed the decline of illustration in part to the lure of advertising. See, for example, Harris, Neil and Norelli, Martina, Art, Design, and the Modern Corporation (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985)Google Scholar; Lears, T. J. Jackson, “Some Versions of Fantasy: Toward a Cultural History of American Advertising, 1880–1930,” Prospects 9 (1984): 349403CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Larson, Judy L., American Illustration: Romance, Adventure, and Success (Calgary, Alb.: The Glenbow Museum, 1986), pp. 2628, 35Google Scholar; Bullard, Edgar John III, “John Sloan and the Philadelphia Realists as Illustrators, 1890–1920” (M.A. thesis, University of California at Los Angeles, 1968), p. xGoogle Scholar; and Levin, Jo Ann Early, “The Golden Age of American Illustration” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1980), p. 103.Google Scholar

2. Hydeman, Sid, How to Illustrate for Money (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936), p. 2.Google Scholar

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5. La Farge, for example, asserted at the time that the oil painter did not tread “some higher path,” and that the illustrator's “task calls upon all the powers of the artist.” See Foster, , “John La Farge,” p. 133Google Scholar, and Adams, , “The Mind of John La Farge,”Google Scholar both in Adams, et al. , John La Farge, pp. 3136Google Scholar; Weinberg, , “John La Farge,” pp. 56Google Scholar; and Lears, T. J. Jackson, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920 (New York: Pantheon, 1981), pp. 164–65.Google Scholar

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11. See, for example, Hoeber, Arthur, “A Century of American Illustration,” Bookman 8, no. 6 (02 1899): 542.Google Scholar

12. Hoeber, , “A Century of American Illustration.”Google Scholar

13. Landgren, Marshall, Years of Art: The Story of the Art Students League of New York (New York: Robert M. McBride, 1940), pp. 4344Google Scholar; and Fairbanks, C. M., “Illustration and Our Illustrators,” Chatauquan 13, no. 5 (08 1891): 599.Google Scholar

14. By 1890, Abbey was working in England. Although he continued to take on illustration assignments for such publications as Harper's Monthly and Scribner's, he was detached from the American illustration scene, centered in New York. He had achieved a reputation as an easel painter, and his closest associates were painters, such as Edward Alma Tadema. Indeed, in 1896 Abbey was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts, an institution noted for upholding staunch professional distinctions between the fine arts (painting and sculpture) and other artistic endeavors; and he received the offical commission to paint the coronation of Edward VII. La Farge remained at the forefront of efforts to acquire more artistic control over the production of decorative art. He continued to do some illustration under limited, utilitarian circumstances: as accompaniments to his own writings and in conjuction with the work of his friend Henry James. La Farge focused on the creation of oils, watercolors, and stained glass. Illustrations were a minor part of his overall production. See Stansky, Peter, Redesigning the World: William Morris, the 1880s, and the Arts and Crafts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 140–41Google Scholar; see also the essays by Foster, Kathleen and Quick, Michael in Yale University Art Gallery, Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1973), esp. pp. iii, 26.Google Scholar In 1889 La Farge illustrated ten of his own articles, published in Century from 1890 to 1893 as “An Artist's Letters from Japan,” and in 1897 as a book, published by Century. He provided some of the illustrations for James's Turn of the Screw when it was seralized in McClure's in 1899.Google Scholar And in 1900–01, his illustrations accompanied three of his articles in Scribner's, “Passages from a Diary in the Pacific.” Information provided in conversation by James Yarnall, January 18, 1989; to be published in Farge, Henry Adams La and Yarnall, James, Catalogue Raisonne' of the Work of John La Farge (New Haven: Yale University Press).Google Scholar

15. See Hawkes, Elizabeth H., “Drawn in Ink: Book Illustrations by Howard Pyle,” in The American Illustrated Book in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Ward, Gerald W. R. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987), pp. 201–32.Google Scholar

16. Coffin, William A., “American Illustration of Today,” Scribner's Magazine 11 (01 1892): 106–17Google Scholar, (February 1892): 197–205, (March 1892): 333–49; Hoeber, , “A Century of American Illustration,” Bookman 8 (18981899): 213–19, 316–24, 429–39, 540–48Google Scholar; Carrington, James B., “The Illustrator and the Artist,” Independent 51 (12 1899)Google Scholar; Pennell, Joseph, “A New Profession Wanting Professors,” Contemporary Review 58 (07 1890): 121–32Google Scholar; and Smith, Francis Hopkinson, American Illustrators (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1894).Google Scholar

17. Despite the British Henry Blackburn's call in 1873 for courses in illustration, for example, the National Academy of Design did not establish one until 1901. The Pennsylvania Academy also resisted attempts to teach illustration. See Pitz, , Howard Pyle, p. 132Google Scholar; and Fink, Lois Marie and Taylor, Joshua C., Academy: The Academic Tradition in American Art (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1975), pp. 60, 64.Google Scholar

18. The New York School of Applied Design for Women instituted an Illustration Department in 1894. The course was taught by Ernest Knaufft that year and by Daniel Beard in 1895. See New York School of Applied Design for Women, 2nd Annual Report, 1894 (New York: New York School of Applied Design for Women, 1894)Google Scholar, and 3rd Annual Report, 1895 (New York: New York School of Applied Design for Women, 1895).Google Scholar

Cooper Union established its course in pen-and-ink illustration in its art school for women during the 1899–90 academic year. The course was geared toward “such work as is necessary for newspaper sketches, etc. This branch is expanding rapidly and seems to furnish a good field for employment.” See Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 31st Annual Report (New York: Edward N. Brokaw, 1890), p. 15Google Scholar, and 41st Annual Report, 1900 (New York: n.p., 1900), p. 46.Google Scholar Cooper Union offered no comparable illustration course in its Night School for Men.

19. Cooper Union, 41st Annual Report, p. 47Google Scholar; Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, President's Annual Report, 1902 (New York: n.p., 1902), p. 44Google Scholar; North, Elizabeth Lore, “Women Illustrators of Child Life,” Outlook 78 (10 1904): 271–80Google Scholar; Stryker, Catherine Connell, The Studios at Cogslea (Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1976), pp. 45Google Scholar; and Goodman, Helen, “Women Illustrators of the Golden Age of Illustration,” Women's Art Journal 8, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1981): 1322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

20. The impact of women artists upon prevailing notions of professional authority in the visual arts in America merits further study. On the problematic relationship between professional identity and female participation in other disciplines, specifically, science, medicine, education, and social work, see Rossiter, Margaret W., Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), pp. 7299Google Scholar; Glazer, Penina Midgal and Slater, Miriam, Unequal Colleagues: The Entry of Women into the Professions, 1890–1940 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1987), pp. 5, 1113Google Scholar; and Abiram, Pnina G. and Outram, Dorinda, eds., Uneasy Careers and Intimate Lives: Women in Science, 1789–1979 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1987), pp. 116.Google Scholar

21. Eighty-four percent of his students were women in 1897, 66 percent in 1898, and 49 percent in 1899. Twenty percent dropped out from 1897 to 1898, probably discouraged by Pyle. See Pitz, , Howard Pyle, pp. 133–34Google Scholar; Henry, Jean, “Drexel's Great School of American Illustration,” in Drexel University Museum, Drexel's Great School of Illustration: Violet Oakley and Her Contemporaries (Philadelphia: Drexel University Museum, 1984), pp. 67Google Scholar; and Elzea, Roland, “The Teacher and His School,” unpublished lecture, Delaware Art Museum, 1987.Google Scholar See also Henry, Jean, “Introduction,” in Drexel University Museum, Frank Schoonover at Drexel: Illustration and the Academic Tradition, 1892–1903 (Philadelphia: The Drexel University Museum, 1986), pp. 56Google Scholar; Elzea, Roland and Hawkes, Elizabeth H., eds., A Small School of Art: The Students of Howard Pyle (Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1980)Google Scholar; and Lykes, Richard Wayne, “Howard Pyle: Teacher of Illustration,” The Pennsylvania Magazine 80, no. 3 (07 1956): 344–49.Google Scholar

22. Abbott, Charles D., Howard Pyle: A Chronicle (New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1925), pp. 213–17Google Scholar; and Pitz, , Howard Pyle, p. 135.Google Scholar

23. Elzea, , “A Teacher and His School,” p. 10.Google Scholar

24. Pitz, , Howard Pyle, p. 135.Google Scholar

25. Pitz, , Howard Pyle, p. 141Google Scholar; and Elzea, and Hawkes, , A Small School of Art, p. 4.Google Scholar

26. Larson, (American Illustration, p. 25)Google Scholar points out the advantages of free lance. The temporary exceptions were illustrators on the staffs of the daily newspapers, but these, too, eliminated most of their artists shortly after the turn of the century. See Bullard, , “John Sloan and the Philadelphia Realists,” pp. 3542, 49Google Scholar; and Perlman, , The Golden Age, pp. 25, 34.Google Scholar

27. John, Bruce St., ed., John Sloan's New York Scene (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. 245Google Scholar (hereafter cited as John Sloan diaries).

28. Larson, , American Illustration, pp. 2526Google Scholar; Rockwell, Norman, Norman Rockwell: My Adventures as an Illustrator as Told to Thomas Rockwell (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1960), pp. 174–75Google Scholar; and Jaccaci, August F. to Corson, Bertha Day, 02 23, 1900Google Scholar, Bertha Corson Day Collection, Box 4, Business Correspondence, File M-2, Helen Fair Sloan Library, Delaware Art Museum. See also the fictional account of this process in Dreiser, Theodore's The “Genius” (1915; rept. New York: New American Library, 1981), p. 101.Google Scholar

29. Theodore Drieser, a former editor at Butterick, recounted the experience of the younger artist. Eugene Witla, a talented young illustrator, who brought his drawings to the art director of Truth. Taken by them, the art director brought one of the drawings in to the editor.

“How much does he want for this?” [asked the editor].

“Oh, he doesn't know. He'll take almost anything. I'll give him seventy-five dollars.”

“That's all right,” said the Editor as the Art Director took the drawing down. “There's something new there. You ought to hang on to him.”

“I will,” replied his associate. “He's young yet. He doesn't want to be encouraged too much.” (Dreiser, , The “Genuis”, p. 106)Google Scholar

John Sloan complained of being kept waiting for assignments, then of having to complete them on short notice. See Sloan, John diaries, 03 21, 1908Google Scholar, in John Sloan's New York Scene, p. 207.Google Scholar See also “Asked by Art Students: A Department Conducted by William Martin Johnson,” Ladies' Home Journal 28 (02 1, 1911): 33.Google Scholar

Frederic Remington represented the flip side of the coin. In 1899, at the height of his career as an illustrator, Harper's reduced the level of his payments because of their own financial difficulties. Ultimately they had to drop him altogether. Remington wrote to his friend Owen Wister in 1900, “As to Harpers - They are hard up and employ cheap men. Also Harpers wants new men. New and cheap lets you out along with all the other old men. They dropped me out of the window but I find a way to get printed” (Peggy, and Samuels, Harold, Frederic Remington: A Biography [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982], pp. 290–91, 295).Google Scholar

30. The National Sculpture Society was founded in 1893 and the National Society of Mural Painters incorporated in 1895. See Bogart, Michele H., Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890–1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), pp. 4455Google Scholar; and Murray, Richard N., “Painting and Sculpture,” in Brooklyn Museum of Art, American Renaissance (New York: Pantheon, 1979), p. 101.Google Scholar

31. Society of Illustrators, Constitution, 1901; List of Members (adopted 01 5, 1903Google Scholar, amended April 21, 1906), pamphlet, n.d., Society of Illustrators, p. 3.

32. Society of Illustrators, Society of Illustrators 1901–1928 (New York: Society of Illustrators, 1928), pp. 78.Google Scholar

33. Society of Illustrators, Constitution, 1901, p. 10.Google Scholar

34. Society of Illustrators, Constitution, 1901Google Scholar, n.p., and Society of Illustrators, p. 8.Google Scholar Compare with Rossiter, , Women Scientists, pp. 7684.Google Scholar

35. Their early efforts culminated in the publication of a tenth anniversary illustrated annual. The introduction, by critic Royal Cortissoz, a somewhat lackluster commendation, concentrated on discussion of the aesthetic tradition of American illustration. See Cortissoz, Royal, “Introduction,” to Society of Illustrators, Annual of the Society of Illustrators (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911), pp. viixiii.Google Scholar

36. Sculptors, who were even more dependent upon outside support and connections for professional advancement, encountered a similar situation. See Bogart, , Public Sculpture, pp. 4952.Google Scholar

37. Bogart, , Public Sculpture, pp. 49, 5255.Google Scholar

38. Quoted in Samuels, , Frederic Remington, p. 336.Google Scholar

39. “Sent $5 (which I can ill afford) to the Secretary of the Society of Illustrators to which I have recently been elected (oh joy!!?)” (Sloan, John diaries, 04 26, 1907Google Scholar, in John Sloan's New York Scene, p. 124).Google Scholar

40. Sloan, John diaries, 05 22, 1907Google Scholar, in John Sloan's New York Scene, p. 130.Google Scholar

41. Sloan, John diaries, 01 6, 1908Google Scholar, January 25, 1908, January 28, 1908, in John Sloan's New York Scene, pp. 180, 188–89.Google Scholar

42. Society of Illustrators, Society of Illustrators, pp. 910.Google Scholar

43. Roland Elzea estimates that periodicals used over 100,000 illustrations per year, and that some illustrators produced 200–300 illustrations per year for weeklies like Life (Elzea, “Golden Age,” p. 9).Google Scholar Reporters experienced similar competitive pressures. For an instructive commparison, see Wilson, , Labor of Words, pp. 3033.Google Scholar

44. Dreiser, , The “Genius”, p. 107Google Scholar, ch. 17 and p. 141, ch. 22; and Sloan, John diaries, 02 2, 1907Google Scholar; and February 18, 1907 in John Sloan's New York Art Scene, pp. 102, 104.Google Scholar See also Pizer, Donald, The Novels of Theodore Drieser: A Critical Study (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976), p. 139Google Scholar.

Dreiser's novel vividly conveys the extent to which the self-image of the New York artist was bound up with issues of status, money, and business success that were associated with the commercial side of illustration.

45. “Incomes of Illustrators,” New York Times, 05 11, 1910, p. 8.Google Scholar

46. According to his biographers Peggy and Howard Samuels, this sum was just double Remington's actual salary. In 1903, a contract signed with Collier's brought him $500 per month for a minimum of $6,000 a year. Remington could choose his own subjects, with the painting published in color. This sum was later increased to $1,000 per painting for a total of $12,000 per year, with a four-year contract.

However, Remington's financial success and his boisterous personality estranged him from the artistic establishment at the National Academy of Design. Its members objected to his popularity, wealth, and to his commercialism (he had carried out commercial auctions of his own work and made money). As a result, he was not elected an Academician, the sign of artistic accomplishment. See Samuels, , Frederic Remington, pp. 122, 168, 209, 238, 345, 360.Google Scholar See also Larson, , American Illustration, p. 20Google Scholar; Elzea, , “Golden Age,” p. 9Google Scholar; and Douglas, Paul H., Real Wages in the United States 1890–1926 (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1966), pp. 364, 382, 386, and Appendix E.Google Scholar

47. Downey, Fairfax, Portrait of an Era as Drawn by Charles Dana Gibson (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936)Google Scholar; Meyer, Susan E., America's Great Illustrators (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1978), pp. 211–31Google Scholar; and Collier, 's Weekly, Charles Dana Gibson: The Man and His Art (New York: Collier's Weekly, 1903)Google Scholar.

48. Harrison Fisher, for example, could earn $3,000 for a single magazine cover. In 1910 the New York Times published a list of “approximate estimates of the yearly earnings of the leading illustrators.” According to this score, Fisher earned $75,000, Howard Chandler Christy made $50,000, and Howard Pyle $20,000. Flagg and Parrish supposedly earned $15,000 (although Susan E. Meyer reports that Flagg earned $75,000 in 1909); the Leyendecker brothers, Orsen Lowell, and Jessie Willcox Smith made $12,000; Sarah Stillwell Weber, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Frank L. Schoonover all made $10,000; Lucius Hitchcock, C. Allen Gilbert, Henry Hutt, Albert Wenzell, and A. I. Keller earned $8,000; Sloan, on the other hand, earned $2,750 in 1980, which to him was satisfactory. See “A Latter Day Industry and Its Rewards,” New York Times, 02 6, 1910Google Scholar, part 5, p. 9; Meyer, Susan E., James Montgomery Flagg (New York: Watson-Guptill, 1974), p. 16Google Scholar; Meyer, , America's Great Illustrators, p. 31Google Scholar; Larson, , American Illustration, p. 31Google Scholar; Bullard, , “John Sloan and the Philadelphia Realists,” pp. 100, 115Google Scholar; and Stote, Amos, “The Illustrator and His Income,” Bookman 28 (09 1908): 2526.Google Scholar

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51. “A Latter Day Industry and Its Rewards,” New York Times, 02 6, 1910, part 5, p. 9Google Scholar. See also Stote, , “The Illustrator,” pp. 2526.Google Scholar

52. Daniel Chester French, annual expenses, Box 28, reel 22, fr. 655, 663, 672, 710, French Family Papers, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Washington, D.C. French's gross income was considerably higher, but like any sculptor, his working costs were extremely high.

53. “A Latter Day Industry,” p. 9.Google Scholar

54. “A Latter Day Industry,” p. 9Google Scholar. In 1911, when a reader wrote to William Martin Johnson in the Ladies' Home Journal for advice on how much one could make as an illustrator, he responded acerbically: “If you strike the popular fancy — and, by the way, no one can fortell the verdict — publishers will pay liberally for technically inferior work.” Creations of works of merit posed many challenges. But the reader need not be discouraged, he reassured her; a great many bad artists accomplished their goals and made a lot of money (“Asked By Art Students,” p. 33).Google Scholar

55. The closest anyone came to an explanation was author/illustrator George Gibbs, who noted that “the great mass of drawings illustrating the fiction of the day (as everyone knows) is done for an especial clientele, surrounded by a hundred restrictions as to space, color, character, and medium, to which the commercial processes of reproduction and printing only are adequate.” Under these circumstances, he admitted, few of these pictures could live up to the high standards of excellence required even for consideration for exhibition at the Metropolitan. (“Should Museums Form Collections of Illustrations?” New York Herald, 12 1, 1907, Literature and Art section, p. 5.)Google Scholar

56. “Should Museums Form Collections,” p. 5.Google Scholar

57. Glackens stated that “considering the gross commercialism of present day illustrators, one shrinks from indorsing the permanency of such a collection” (“Should Museums Form Collections,” p. 5).Google Scholar

58. “Should Museums Form Collections,” p. 5.Google Scholar

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60. Little to Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pearson's Magazine file.

61. Clarke, Caspar Purdon to de Forest, Robert, 12 6, 1907Google Scholar, Pearson's Magazine file.

62. Roger Fry, report on letter from MrLittle, Arthur W. of Pearson's Magazine, date 11 30, 1907Google Scholar [n.d. on report], Pearson's Magazine file.

63. Clarke, Caspar Purdon to Guild, Frank S., 01 31, 1908Google Scholar, Pearson's Magazine file.

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65. Clarke, Caspar Purdon to Guild, Frank S., 01 31, 1908Google Scholar, Pearson's Magazine file. In this correspondence, it is clear that the publishers were trying to coax the museum into agreeing to set up a department. He phrased his statement to make it sound as though the museum were in fact planning such an arrangement. The response provided no such indication.

66. Norman Price, notes of meetings taken while Secretary of the Society of Illustrators, March 11, 1925, Society of Illustrators, New York; and Tomkins, Calvin, Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), p. 238.Google Scholar

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70. James Montgomery Flagg, for example, created advertisements for Edison Phono and for Alder Rochester Overcoats. Yet, according to Earnest Elmo Calkins, Flagg agreed to take on such commissions only on the condition that his name not be associated with the campaign. See introduction in Young, , Modern Advertising Art, p. 10Google Scholar. For an illustration of the Flagg ad for overcoats, see Hess, Herbert W., Productive Advertising (Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott, 1915), p. 45.Google Scholar

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72. Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Exhibition of Advertising Art,” International Studio 34, no. 135 (05 1908): cix.Google Scholar

73. Advertising agents and artists were invited to submit “magazine advertising designs, newpaper advertising designs, posters, covers of catalogues, booklets, folders or pamphlets, covers of magazines, entire booklets, and any other specimens of art applied to advertising.” See Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “The first time on any stage,” in Art Directors Club of New York, Fourth Annual of Advertising Art (New York: Art Directors Club, 1925), n.p.Google Scholar

74. Calkins, , “The first time on any stage.”Google Scholar

75. Calkins, , “The first time on any stage.”Google Scholar

76. “Advertising Art Shown,” New York Times, 01 10, 1909, p. 12Google Scholar; and Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Exhibition of Advertising Art,” International Studio 34, no. 134 (04 1908): cix.Google Scholar

77. Art Directors Club of New York, Fourth Annual of Advertising Art, n.p.

78. Laurvik, J. Nilsen, “The Third Annual Exhibition of Advertising Art in the Galleries of the National Arts Club,” International Studio 42, no. 165 (11 1910): xliGoogle Scholar. Calkins omitted cover designs from the 1909 exhibition, but, he observed, advertisers and designs of advertising “do not seem to be ready to take advantage of this exhibition so fully as the committee thought, so that the exhibition was not as large as it was last year” (Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Second Annual Exhibition of Advertising Art,” International Studio 36 [02 1909]: cxlvi).Google Scholar

79. “You printed the other day an automobile cover of Mr. J. C. Leyendecker's entitled ‘The Speed God’ [a nude Mercury figure perched on an automobile]… Mr. Leyendecker's genius was never more triumphantly shown … To be sure, the artistic mugwump might complain that this was not really the Speed God at all, that the most cursory glance would reveal him as merely the familiar Hart, Schaeffenbaum, and Marxheimer ready-to-wear gentleman of the advertising section, who has removed his clothes and attached to his ankles a pair of property wings” (“A Letter to the Editor,” Collier's Weekly 37, no. 17 [03 23, 1907]: 17)Google Scholar. See also Bradley, Will A., “The Art of Illustration,” Nation 97 (07 10, 1913): 4243Google Scholar; and Larson, , American Illustration, p. 28.Google Scholar

80. Eastman, Max, Journalism Vs. Art (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1916), p. 42.Google Scholar

81. Zurier, Rebecca, Art for the Masses: A Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911–1917 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988), pp. 4650, 104, 129, 139, 145.Google Scholar

82. Eastman, , Journalism Vs. Art, p. 42.Google Scholar

83. Noting a general dissatisfaction with contemporary illustration, Will Bradley commented that the present-day illustrators were less interested in art “than by the promise of large and prompt profits. …” If illustration was inferior to what it was ten to fifteen years earlier, it was because honest men in the field were swamped by “hordes of half trained, and worse still, unscrupulous illustrators whose sole ambition is to make money easily, spend it freely, and ride around in big motor cars …. Thus illustration forms today merely a transition stage for most artists who practice it. And instead of painters becoming illustrators as before, we have now the spectacle of the ablest men starting into paint as soon as they are pecuniarily able to do so” (Bradley, , “Art of Illustration,” pp. 4243).Google Scholar

84. Pitz, , Howard Pyle, pp. 186–88.Google Scholar

85. Pitz, Howard Pyle, p. 178.Google Scholar

86. Pyle had begun such work in 1905, but only in 1906 did he receive commissions, the first for the Battle of Nashville for the Minnesota State Capitol, the second for the Landing of Carteret for the Essex County Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey, and a third for the panels for the Hudson County Courthouse in Jersey City, New Jersey (Pitz, , Howard Pyle, p. 193).Google Scholar

87. Wyeth, Betsy James, ed., The Wyeths: The Letter of N.Y.C. Wyeth, 1901–1945 (Boston: Gambit Press, 1971), pp. 144, 145, 176, 189, 202, 211, 244, 258, 277, 290, 292, 293, 299, 300, 315, 368, 389, 502, 561, 619, 830.Google Scholar

88. Wyeth, N. C. to Wyeth, Henriette, 01 25, 1907Google Scholar, in The Wyeths, p. 202.Google Scholar

89. Wyeth, N. C. to Chase, Sidney M., 04 15, 1914Google Scholar, in The Wyeths, p. 459.Google Scholar

90. Wyeth, N. C. to Wyeth, Henriette, 02 17, 1916Google Scholar, in The Wyeths, p. 521Google Scholar; see also Rockwell, , My Adventures, p. 215.Google Scholar

91. Wyeth, N. C., “On Illustrations,” New York Times Book Review, 10 13, 1912, p. 574.Google Scholar

92. Wyeth, N. C. to Wyeth, Henriette, 06 7, 1907Google Scholar, in The Wyeths, p. 211.Google Scholar

93. Wyeth, N. C. to Wyeth, Edwin Rudolph, 12 5, 1943Google Scholar, in The Wyeths, p. 830.Google Scholar

94. Downey, , Portrait, p. 1, 520.Google Scholar

95. Downey, , Portrait, pp. 94106, 184, 196204, 278–82.Google Scholar

96. Downey, , Portrait, pp. 150, 166, 204–12Google Scholar; and Bridges, Robert, “Charles Dana Gibson: An Appreciation,” Collier's Weekly 34, no. 3 (10 15, 1904): 1213.Google Scholar

97. Downey, , Portrait, pp. 287, 289, 303.Google Scholar

98. Downey, , Portrait, pp. 269, 303Google Scholar; and Meyer, , America's Great Illustrators, p. 230Google Scholar. Gibson had also served as the society's president from 1904 to 1907, but his role was probably honorific during his years away from illustration.

99. Ludwig, Coy, Maxfield Parrish (New York: Watson-Guptill, 1973), p. 122.Google Scholar

100. Ludwig, , Maxfield Parrish, pp. 126–27.Google Scholar

101. See Peters, Harry T., Currier and Ives: Printmakers to the American People (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1929)Google Scholar; Martinez, Katherine, “Images of Love, Tokens of Friendship: Gift Book Illustration by John Sartain,”Google Scholar in Ward, , American Illustrated Book, pp. 89112Google Scholar; and Marzio, Peter C., Chromolithography 1840–1900: The Democratic Art; Pictures for a Nineteenth Century America (Boston: David R. Godine and Amon Carter Museum of Art, 1979), pp. 4963, 94129.Google Scholar

102. “Maxfield Parrish Will Discard ‘Girl on Rock’ Idea in Art,” Associated Press, 04 27, 1931Google Scholar, in Ludwig, , Maxfield Parrish, p. 129.Google Scholar

103. Ludwig, , Maxfield Parrish, pp. 174–77.Google Scholar

104. Ludwig, , Maxfield Parrish, p. 145.Google Scholar

105. Mock, James R. and Larson, Cedric, Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917–1919 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939), p. 4.Google Scholar

106. Mock, and Larson, , Words That Won the War, pp. 101–02Google Scholar; and “Report of the Work Accomplished by the Society of Illustrators in Helping the Government to Obtain Pictorial Publicity,” 10 1, 1917Google Scholar, Society of Illustrators, New York.

107. Creel, George, How We Advertised America: The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee of Public Information that Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe (1920; rept. New York: Arno Press, 1972), p. 103Google Scholar; and Willsie, Honore, “Charles Dana Gibson Mobilizes American Illustrators,” The Delineator 93, no. 5 (11 1918): 16Google Scholar. On the Committee of Public Information, see also Vaughn, Stephen, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980).Google Scholar

108. Mock, and Larson, , Words That Won the War, p. 105Google Scholar; Creel, , How We Advertised America, p. 138Google Scholar; Society of Illustrators, “Report,” pp. 16Google Scholar. See also Vanderlip, F. A. to Gibson, Charles Dana, 10 18, 1917Google Scholar; Price, Oscar A. to Gibson, Charles Dana, 10 16, 1917Google Scholar; and Raymond, C. E. to Gibson, Charles Dana, 11 9, 1917Google Scholar, Society of Illustrators, New York. For illustrations of many of these posters, see Rawls, Walton, Wake Up America! World War I and the American Poster (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988).Google Scholar

109. Mock, and Larson, , Words That Won the War, p. 103Google Scholar; and Rawls, , Wake up, pp. 149–69.Google Scholar

110. Creel, , How We Advertised America, p. 136Google Scholar; Willsie, , “Charles Dana Gibson,” p. 16Google Scholar; and Mock, and Larson, , Words That Won the War, p. 105.Google Scholar

111. Creel, , How We Advertised America, p. 160Google Scholar; and Mock, and Larson, , Words That Won the War, p. 105.Google Scholar

112. Levin, , “Golden Age,” p. 115Google Scholar; and Creel, , How We Advertised America, pp. 156–64.Google Scholar

113. Creel, , How We Advertised America, pp. 136–37.Google Scholar

114. “Soldiers Begin Art Study,” New York Times, 02 9, 1918, p. 9Google Scholar; Thomas Watson Ball to Willard Fairchild, February 11, 1924, School for Disabled Soldiers letter box; and form for individual training program, School for Disabled Solders letter box, file on students, Society of Illustrators. Also Thomas Watson Ball to Ray Greenleaf, April 7, 1924; and George Barse to W. A. Rogers, March 31, 1922, School for Disabled Soldiers letter box, correspondence with instructors file, Society of Illustrators. See also Thomas Watson Ball to Ray Greenleaf, April 7, 1924; Thomas Watson Ball to George Welp, April 7 and 9, 1924; and Locke, Raymond P. to Ball, Thomas Watson, 04 7, 1924Google Scholar, School for Disabled Soldiers letter box, Society of Illustrators; and “Pictures by Veterans to Be on Exhibition,” New York Times, 03 2, 1924, p. 1.Google Scholar

115. Barse, George to Rogers, W. A., 03 29 and 31, 1922Google Scholar, School for Disabled Soldiers letter box, Society of Illustrators; and Society of Illustrators, Society of Illustrators, p. 14.Google Scholar

116. Society of Illustrators, Constitution and List of Members, 1922, pamphlet, Society of Illustrators, New York City.

117. Norman Price, “Notes of meetings, rough suggestions from letters herewith, 1921,” Norman Price file box, Society of Illustrators. John Sloan had objected to the Society's emphasis on entertainment as early as 1908. He noted in his dairy that his election as chairman of the entertainment committee was “a mistake, a joke on me. I can't want to entertain them” (Sloan, John diaries, 01 6, 1908Google Scholar, John Sloan's New York Scene, p. 180).Google Scholar

118. During the early 1920s, the society contracted with Lee and J. J. Shubert to allow the Shuberts to incorporate select numbers from the illustrators' annual shows into Shubert reviews, with the society receiving a small percentage of the royalties. One of them, “Artists and Models,” reportedly grossed the Shuberts over $400,000. See “Flagg Creates Stir at Show of Artists,” New York Times, 05 23, 1924, p. 9Google Scholar; “Reply to Artist Flagg,” New York Times, 05 25, 1924, p. 18Google Scholar; and Flagg, James Montgomery, Roses and Buckshot (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1946), p. 129.Google Scholar

119. Police arrested five female dancers on indecency charges for their seminude performance in numbers called “Welcome Pilgrims” and “The Warming of the Bastille.” The New York Times reported that the audience, five to eight hundred men “in evening dress,” and who included prominent writers, businessmen, and city magistrates, “laughed heartily” during the raid because they mistook it for part of the show. They remained in their seats for twenty minutes before learning what had actually happened. See “Charity Benefit Raided by the Police,” New York Times, 11 9, 1935, p. 18Google Scholar; “Valentine Backs Raid on Artists”, New York Times, 11 10, 1935, p. 3Google Scholar; “Complaint Detailed in Attack on Artists,” New York Times, 11 12, 1935, p. 25Google Scholar; and “Girls in Show Raid Freed at Hearing,” New York Times, 11 15, 1935, p. 21.Google Scholar

120. During the Depression these benefits raised funds for illustrators on the dole. See card from Women's Committee, Society of Illustrators, December 3, 1932, Society of Illustrators; R. H. Reilly to Society of Illustrators, December 12, 1932, General Correspondence files, 1933–34, Society of Illustrators, is an example of one artist's request for financial assistance.

121. Tebbel, John, A History of Book Publishing in the United States (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1978), vol. 3Google Scholar, The Golden Age Between Two Wars, 1920–1940, pp. 376–77Google Scholar; Levin, , “Golden Age,” pp. 132–34Google Scholar; Larson, , American Illustration, p. 37Google Scholar; Whipple, Leon, “The Revolution on Quality Street,” The Survey 57, no. 3 (11 1, 1926): 119, 121, and no. 7 (January 1, 1927): 430–31Google Scholar; Pennell, Joseph, The Adventures of An Illustrator (Boston: Little, Brown, 1925), p. 358Google Scholar; and Craven, Thomas, “The Decline of Illustration,” American Mercury 12, no. 46 (10 1927): 204–7.Google Scholar

122. In concert with the Art Directors Club, the guild developed a code of ethics, proper practices, and grievance procedures that would help alleviate misunderstandings among illustrators, art directors, publishers, and advertising agencies. Guild members included Charles Dana Gibson, Harvey Dunn, and James Montgomery Flagg. See “The Best Advertising Art Always Comes from the Studios of Free Lance Artists,” pamphlet, n.d. (ca. 1927); and “The Guild of Free Lance Artists: A Group with a Constructive Purpose,” Arts and Decoration 14, no. 5 (03, 1921): 362–63.Google Scholar

123. Marchand, Roland, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920–1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 104–5, 110–16, 121–22Google Scholar; see also Moffatt, Laurie Norton, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, 2 vols. (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1986), vol. 1.Google Scholar

124. Art Directors Club, Annual of Advertising Art in the United States, 1921 (New York: Publishers' Printing Co., 1921), p. iv.Google Scholar

125. During this decade, even Wyeth executed commissions for Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour, N. W. Ayer, Interwoven Stocking Company, New York Telephone, and Steinway and Sons. His younger colleagues accepted advertising assignments much more readily. Although Norman Rockwell, for example, preferred to do magazine illustration, especially covers for the Saturday Evening Post, he was not at all troubled about taking on commercial assignments, so long as they did not involve long-term contracts. See Allen, Douglas and Allen, Douglas Jr., N. C. Wyeth: The Collected Paintings, Illustrations, and Murals (New York: Bonanza Books, 1972), pp. 141–72, 293–95Google Scholar; Flagg, , Roses and Buckshot, p. 102Google Scholar; and Rockwell, , My Adventures, pp. 373, 374Google Scholar. See also Bullard, , “John Sloan and the Philadelphia Realists,” p. 134Google Scholar, for the comments of George Luks on commercial art.

126. On art-world disdain for illustration, see Norman Price, notes from a lecture by Charles Falls at the Society of Illustrators, February 7, 1937, p. 2, letter files, Society of Illustrators. See also Greenberg, Clement, “Avant Garde and Kitsch,” in Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), pp. 915.Google Scholar

127. See Famous Artists School, Inc., Westport, Connecticut, Famous Artists Course (Westport, Conn.: Famous Artists Schools, 1960).Google Scholar

128. Morse, Arthur D., “Twelve Famous Artists,” Collier's 125 (03 25, 1950): 40Google Scholar; “Art as a Career for Women,” pamphlet, Famous Artists Schools, 1951; Ray, M. B., “The Story of an Artists' School,” Coronet 35 (03 1954): 101–2Google Scholar; and “The Case of the Practical Artist,” Fortune 60 (11 1959): 290.Google Scholar

129. “The Case of the Practical Artist: Famous Money Makers Hit Gold at Westport,” Business Week, 12 28, 1963, p. 38.Google Scholar

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