Born on January 2, 1893, Charles Kaiser grew up knowing an entirely different era of art history than the one he would help shape in the twentieth century.
Kaiser’s arc of five cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post between May of 1942 and August of 1943 centered the emotional experience surrounding the holidays.
His illustrations are still engaging largely thanks to the expressive faces of his characters: a young boy smiling as he bites into watermelon on the Fourth of July; a spooked little girl peeking out from behind a witch’s mask on Halloween; or Lady Luck hiding her war bond stamps in her cap, her face full of excitement and anticipation.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Kaiser headed to the heart of the Midwest to study art and illustration under artist Henry George Keller in Cleveland, Ohio. After his apprenticeship, Kaiser headed to the big city to strive for his dream and make a name for himself in the art world. He moved to Greenwich Village in New York City to find work as an illustrator. He succeeded, and was made a member of the Society of Illustrators relatively early in life, but then resigning from his longstanding membership in the organization by 1940 at the age of 47.
Interestingly enough, it was after his resignation from the society that illustration work from The Saturday Evening Post poured in.
His most famous work for the Post, “Shamrock Chapeau,” is this exciting St. Patrick’s Day cover from March 20th, 1943. Lady Luck is personified as a woman dressed in green for the holiday’s festivities.
The proper woman of the time wears a green top hat and a veil, symbolic of a poker face. She is covered in clovers and holds what look to be playing cards clasped by a large clover. Lady Luck’s cards are actually war bond stamps, sold to support the war effort. She holds them out to the viewer, implying that America shouldn’t leave victory up to chance. If luck favors the prepared, America should buy war bonds.
Lady Luck’s look of surprise is a double-edged sword–the purchase of a bond could make all the difference in who wins the war. Luck be a lady!