I fell in love with this 1977 Country Gentleman cover when I ran across it in the archives recently. CG was a sister magazine to The Saturday Evening Post, and I got to wondering: what other hidden treasures lurk in the Country Gentleman stacks?
By kind permission of Coe Kerr Gallery in 1977, we were able to reproduce this painting by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860). It was of his brother, Ruebens (do you think the parents might have been art buffs?) and shows him here “with the first geranium brought to America in 1801.” The editors further informed us that “the Peales ran what amounted to a portrait factory where they painted Indians, patriots, still lifes, landscapes, miniatures and themselves–in great abundance.” And apparently with exquisite skill.
Since it was a magazine for farmers, Country Gentleman covers were frequently of livestock or farm scenes. This peaceful June scene was in the heart of dairyland in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. The artist was Robert Addison. As serene and picturesque as it appeared here, this was a working dairy farm of 197 acres. But wait…I found a great painting of a movie star and a cover painted by a former President…
From a peaceful summer scene to a peaceful winter scene – and can you see the artist’s signature? White Church in the Country was painted by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961 “amidst the stifling one-hundred-degree heat of the Palm Desert in California.” Eisenhower loved golf, but “daubing,” as he referred to his painting, was his second-favorite hobby. A very fine portrait of Eisenhower by Norman Rockwell appeared on a Saturday Evening Post cover in 1952. And speaking of Rockwell…
This 1979 cover was a repeat – it originally appeared on Country Gentleman magazine in 1922. It was the result of a contest to find the most representative “Country Gent” salesboy. The winner got to pose for Norman Rockwell! “The response was overwhelming,” editors informed us. “500,000 young entrepreneurs mailed in their photos, and one George Hamilton of Binghampton, New York, was chosen as the lucky model.” George’s mother had sent a photo of him holding four fox terriers. “Never mind that the puppies had somehow switched their breed…to beagles,” the editors noted, “for Norman Rockwell transformed the ordinary into magic.” This we all well know.
What movie buff wouldn’t love this cover? The handsome cowboy, of course, is Jimmy Stewart. He was painted by artist Robert Abbett for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Stewart had great appreciation for the Hollywood Western. “It saved my career, after the war,” he is quoted as saying in this issue, “and everybody knows what it did for Gary Cooper and Duke Wayne. Naturally, I’m grateful.” And we’re grateful for such a beautiful way to remember a beloved actor.
For a magazine named Country Gentleman, this must be the quintessential cover. Known as a “sporting painter,” George Stubbs (1724-1806) painted horses, dogs, hay wagons, and harvesting activities against the English countryside. This gem is called Sir John Nelthorpe Out Shooting.
Seems I’m always discovering a new artist. Okay, so this “new” artist was born in 1780, but renowned primitive painter Edward Hicks was new to me. This is a portion of a stunning painting of James Cornell’s Pennsylvania farm circa 1848 on an Indian summer day. The farm won a five-dollar prize for the “best cultivated farm over 100 acres,” which the editors informed us was “five years before the Genessee Farmer and The Cultivator combined to create the first Country Gentleman magazine.” Not as old as The Saturday Evening Post, but Country Gentleman sure went back a fer piece. If you hunger to see more Country Gentleman covers, or have a question about Saturday Evening Post covers, feel free to comment and let us know.