The Art of Frances Tipton Hunter

Kids: Good, naughty, embarrassed, gleeful … and always adorable. But what does this have to do with a poem by Ogden Nash?

Girl carries protesting boy to spring pagent

Spring Pageant
Francis Tipton Hunter
April 12, 1941

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“Here Boy!”

Here Boy! by Frances Tipton Hunter December 5, 1936
“Here Boy!”Frances Tipton Hunter December 5, 1936

Now, where is that dog? A reader recently requested information about cover artist Frances Tipton Hunter (1896-1957). Hunter’s career spanned the 1920s through 1950s, and like many female artists of that time, she frequently focused on children and pets.

“Girl and Boy at Soda Fountain”

Girl and Boy at Soda Fountain by Frances Tipton Hunter June 6,1936
“Girl and Boy at Soda Fountain”Frances Tipton Hunter June 6,1936

This was Hunter’s first cover for The Saturday Evening Post. The expression on the little boy’s face when he realizes he forgot (or lost) his money makes this a favorite of mine. Hunter’s artistic talent revealed itself during her high school years. She graduated with honors from the Philadelphia Museum of Industrial Arts and did the same at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Fleisher Art Memorial. She moved from Pennsylvania to New York where she illustrated children’s fashions for department stores.

“Boys in Principal’s Office”

Boys in Principal’s Office by Frances Tipton Hunter September 12, 1936
“Boys in Principal’s Office”Frances Tipton Hunter September 12, 1936

In 1936, like today, when little boys get in fights, a trip to the principal’s office is in order. I love the anxious expression on the blond boy’s face. In the 1920s Hunter created a series of paper dolls for Ladies Home Journal that became so popular that a compendium of her doll artwork was later published. She also illustrated for Collier’s, Women’s Home Companion, and Good Housekeeping as well as being known for her work in advertisements, puzzles, and calendar art.

“Boy and Girl at Candy Counter”

Boy and Girl at Candy Counter by Frances Tipton Hunter August 19, 1939
“Boy and Girl at Candy Counter”Frances Tipton Hunter August 19, 1939

Oh, gracious, this takes me back! I can remember having a few pennies to spend on candy and taking forever to make the momentous decision. Hunter was said to imitate Rockwell in her idealized visions of children. Perhaps this is because she never had children of her own.

“Little Boy and Winter Underwear”

Little Boy and Winter Underwear by Frances Tipton Hunter Feb 27, 1937
“Little Boy and Winter Underwear”Frances Tipton Hunter,br /> Feb 27, 1937

The life of an artist! Post editors suggested this idea for a cover, and the artist liked it. She wanted to sketch it from real life, so she found a spot in a Philadelphia department store and waited. “Well, she waited and waited,” editors wrote in this 1937 issue. “Little girls came in, with large mothers, and stolid, big boys with small mothers, but not a small boy in the lot. Hours passed, with Miss Hunter waiting patiently in her corner. Finally, when all seemed lost, in came the pair you see on the cover of this issue. Miss Hunter sat bolt upright, all eyes, sketch pad ready. She wanted the expression on the youngster’s face, particularly. And then came the big moment—the small fry glowered and muttered: mother held the despicable woolies. Miss Hunter poised her pencil.

“‘Turn around, Richard,’ said mother, ‘and I’ll measure these against your back.’” Sigh. Somehow our dedicated artist caught the perfect expression and the cover came out great.

“Girl and Boy on School Steps”

Girl and Boy on School Steps by Frances Tipton Hunter May 25, 1940
“Girl and Boy on School Steps”Frances Tipton Hunter May 25, 1940

Hunter painted big kids, too. In this 1940 cover, the young lady is concentrating on teaching her classmate the math formulas and he is concentrating on … well, I think you can guess. When Frances Tipton passed away in 1957, she left her artwork to be divided between the James V. Brown Library and the Lycoming County Historical Museum, both in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“Kids Riding Trolley”

Kids Riding Trolley by Frances Tipton Hunter July 20, 1940
“Kids Riding Trolley” by Frances Tipton Hunter July 20, 1940

This 1940 cover of a boy and girl was another of eighteen covers Hunter did for the Post. For others, see the Curtis Publishing website.

What does any of this have to do with Ogden Nash? Just this: I found an illustration by Frances Tipton Hunter for a poem called “Remembrance of Tings to Come” published by Nash in the August 29, 1936 issue of the Post. Here is a link to that poem, with Miss Hunter’s illustration:

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  1. I found an old picture that Francis Tipton Hunter did and it is called Double Trouble. It’s in it’s original frame with the pegs that hold the frame together. The back cardboard is flaking but the picture is perfect. I’ve been thinking about cutting another piece of cardboard just to cover the original so it wont flake any more. I would love to know the value of the picture. I found this picutre in a closet of an old house I bought 30 years ago. I don’t know how long it had been there before I found it. I know the house was about 150 years old and is being torn down now. I still have the picture, it still has the original wire for hanging it on the wall. It’s a fantastic find.

  2. A fine article and recap of an excellent cover artist. Her paintings of children rivaled anyones. The expressions captured were wonderful. The boy in the June 6 and September5 12. 1936 covers appear to be the same young man. His expressions are amazing.

  3. Diana, your feature in the weekly POST e-mails are without a doubt, my favorite feature—and I comment often, I know. I absolutely love the art of Ms. Hunter, thank you for featuring her! I was not aware of her of her previously.

    As much as I like all of the covers sampled here, the ‘Soda Fountain’ is my favorite. I can relate to the “oh no!” expression on the boy’s face—and it happened to me recently! She did A LOT of other work too, in a much tougher time period for women in general, particularly in this male-dominated field. I want to study her other POST covers at the Curtis website. Thank you so much!


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