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John Sheridan

Published: May 13, 2015

American illustrator John “Jack” E. Sheridan(1880-1948) was a Midwesterner born in Tomah, Wisconsin, whose interests in art flourished during his college years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He produced sports posters for the school to pay for his education and even provided posters to the school’s athletics programs after he became a successful artist. The reprints, still popular among Georgetown alums, are sold at the university today and the original prints are part of the Special Collections Department of the school’s main library. As was common at the turn of the century, Sheridan left school before earning a degree when he accepted a job offer in New York City in 1900.

Covers by John Sheridan

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His natural artistic talents served him well at the Manhattan office of Chicago-based clothier Hart Schaffner & Marx where he created advertisements, posters, and catalogs. He later worked for the Bosch Magneto Company. During this time, Sheridan gained much needed professional work experience before he returned to Washington, D.C., as art director for The Washington Times.

During World War I, Sheridan served on an art committee for the Federal Committee of Public Information. The art committee’s famed chairman, Charles Dana Gibson, recommended Sheridan for the position. Sheridan developed lifelong friendships while creating war posters that advertised recruitment and aid programs. One of their colleagues on the committee was James Flagg, inventor of the iconic Uncle Sam.

After completing his stint at the Times, Sheridan accepted a job editing art on the West Coast and helped produce the Sunday paper layout for The San Francisco Chronicle. While working in California, Sheridan met his future wife, Louise.

When the two married, Sheridan decided to return to academia to improve his artistic composition and technique. The couple moved to Paris, France. They lived the starving artist lifestyle for a year while Sheridan studied at the Académie Colarossi.

Upon his return from Europe, Sheridan opened a studio in Manhattan at 27 West 67th Street. He focused on producing cover art and inside illustrations for popular magazines. His first cover was for Sunset Magazine. His reputation grew. Soon he was providing cover art for The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, The American Magazine, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

Sheridan’s 14 covers for The Saturday Evening Post ran from 1918 to 1939. The covers are mostly sports related. The artist chose to focus on the greatness of American institutions such as baseball and the military. He also exhibited his work privately in galleries on the East Coast in New York and Philadelphia.

The artist’s style became less and less popular on the cover as other Post artists gained national recognition. Toward the end of his career, Sheridan accepted a teaching position in New York City at the Cartoonist’s and Illustrator’s School, also known as the School of Visual Arts.

The arts community in New York City adored Sheridan. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Dutch Treat Club, and the Players Club. The Players Club allowed Sheridan the opportunity to act alongside many of his contemporaries including John LaGatta, James Flagg, Jefferson Machamer, and Clarence Kelland.

Today, John Sheridan is remembered for his era-defining portrayals of sports and the U.S. military. Sheridan lived a long and fulfilling life passionately employed in his career. He died on July 3, 1948 at the age of 68.

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