Biography: Richard “Dick” Sargent

(March 26, 1911-1978)

Occupations:

Artist, illustrator, portraitist

Schools:

Moline High School, Moline Illinois Art School, Corcoran College of Art & Design, Phillips Memorial Gallery

Studio Work:

Printing and Engraving Plant, Advertising, Freelance

Art Genre/Grouping:

American Expressionist Art

Marital Status/Family:

Married Helen (1 son)

Where is his art now?

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Conway County Courthouse (AR), private collections

Biography

Richard “Dick” Sargent, one of The Saturday Evening Post’s most prolific illustrators, was a Midwesterner born in Moline, Illinois, on March 26, 1911. His early career in art began just after his graduation from Moline High School, when he went to work for a local printing and engraving plant. While there, Sargent attended night classes at the Moline Illinois Art School, the foundation for his future career as an artist.

As his artistic prowess developed, he began creating professional artwork for advertising firms and later, a solo career as an artist and illustrator. Sargent worked in advertising for over 20 years, starting in 1928, prior to making a name for himself as a freelance illustrator. During this time period, Sargent further honed his artistic skills by taking classes at both the Corcoran College of Art & Design and the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington, D.C.

By the time Sargent headed out into the world to make a name for himself as a solo artist, he had started a family, who later provided inspiration for some of his most successful works of art. He married his sweetheart, Helen, and had a rambunctious, redheaded, mischief-prone son named Anthony who was often depicted on the cover of the Post. The suburban life they built together established the perfect model for scenes of 1950s households in everyday situations of suburban American life.

In 1951, Sargent completed his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, “Truth About Santa,” for the December 15 Christmas issue. While Sargent’s popularity grew through the exposure he received with the Post, he also did illustration work for magazines such as Fortune, Woman’s Day, Photoplay, and American Magazine. Americans adored Sargent and his art for his ability to show relatable, pregnant scenes with open-ended conclusions that commented on the situational comedy of life.

In addition to his work as a magazine illustrator, Sargent also received special commissions that afforded him the opportunity to travel the world. In 1954, the USO sent Sargent to Korea to entertain troops fighting in the Korean conflict. He later remarked, “We’d put on civilian clothes to work in–the boys would get such a kick out of seeing somebody in good old stateside civvies.” He spent six weeks flying throughout the country where he met with American soldiers and created art for them to send home to loved ones.

Sargent caught the “travel bug” on his trip to Korea, and he and his wife vacationed in Paris, France, in 1959. He used his wife as a model in many works he created there to highlight Parisian life and landmarks. By the 1960s, photography had taken the place of illustration in magazine cover art. This caused the couple to move to the Andalusia region of Spain to live out the rest of their days in peaceful retirement. Sargent died suddenly in 1978 at the age of 67.