Norman Perceval Rockwell, The Saturday Evening Post’s most famous illustrator, is considered by many to be one of America's greatest artists. He was a master storyteller via canvas and paint, and his works, capturing the triumphs and foibles of the common man, are as popular today as they were in decades past.

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John Clymer began his life on the west coast, but spent much of his career out east working in illustration and advertising. Born in Ellensburg, Washington in 1917, Clymer grew up fascinated by natural art at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Over the course of his life, he nurtured his love of nature and eventually became most famous for his depictions of the iconic American west. His parents, John and Elmira Clymer, lived simple lives owning a greenhouse and florist business together.

John was not an academic child. He preferred doodles and staring at the landscape outside the classroom window over paying attention to adults. In his youth, the local Presbyterian pastor halted his own sermon to tell John, who was sitting in the back, to stop drawing in the hymnals.

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Harrison Fisher was known as "Father of a Thousand Girls" for his paintings of beautiful women. He was also the father of over eighty covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Harrison Fisher (1875-1934) was the son and grandson of artists, and by the time he was six, his father was teaching him about art.

Fisher became a newspaper illustrator while he was still in his teenage years. In the days before photography was commonplace, newspapers depicted current events and stories in black and white sketches. Soon, however, it was clear that paintings of beautiful women were his forté and he found his ladies described as successors to the Gibson Girls.

Much like the Gibson Girls, the Fisher Girls were the epitome of the All-American beauty with hourglass figures, delicate facial features and rich, lustrous hair. If you could see any of this beyond those hats, that is.

Being a Fisher model was the hot job. Fisher’s models ran in high society circles, motoring with millionaires and staying at luxury mansions. But one model was especially interesting.

Her name was Dorothy Gibson. Her story begins with a brief career as a vaudeville singer and dancer before she became Harrison Fisher’s favorite model. She was also a survivor from the Titanic.

It is said that publisher William Randolph, with his newspapers and magazines like Cosmopolitan, tried to keep Fisher so busy he couldn’t work for other publications.

Indeed, Fisher illustrated most Cosmopolitan covers–nearly 300–between 1913 and his death in 1934. It was Cosmo that gave him the nickname “Father of a Thousand Girls."

In fact, Fisher was reported in some sources to have had an exclusive contract with Cosmopolitan magazine, which is either inaccurate, or the artist found a way around it, as he did over 80 covers for The Saturday Evening Post between 1900 and 1915.

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Born in Rostov-on-the-Don, Russia, to wealthy parents Ivan and Izabella Alajálov, Constantin Alajálov (1900-1987) grew up a well-educated man. He attended the Gymnasium of Rostov from 1912 to 1917 and began his studies at the University of Petrograd in 1917. At five years old, the artist began making sketches; a talent his mother nurtured. In school, he preferred languages. Alajálov studied French, English, German, and Italian. His skill in art and language became tools for survival before ever turning it into a passionate career.

His academic pursuits were cut short in 1917 on the advent of the Russian Revolution. The revolution began with an armed insurrection in Petrograd, the very city in which Alajálov was studying. Forced out of school, the Bolsheviks drafted Alajálov to produce political propaganda throughout southern Russian villages. He painted wall murals and posters until escaping to Rasht, Persia (now northern Iran) in 1920.

Constantin’s time in Persia, however, was short-lived. In 1921, the khan he was working for was executed by his successor. Again, Alajálov fled to a new land and sought refuge in Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey).

Alajálov’s Constantinople era was one of abject poverty. The artist was grateful for a glass of goat’s milk or a small meal as payment for posters and murals. He once remarked that Russian princes wandered the streets in gray flannel pajamas provided by the American Red Cross. He began a Russian Artists Club to study technique and critique the work of his peers. After two years, Constantin had saved enough money, $100, to make the trip to New York City.

Arriving in 1923 with $5 in his pocket, the artist ran into a boyhood friend on Broadway. The friend happened to be the secretary of famous American dancer Isadora Duncan. Constantin used this connection to network with the Russian community in New York City. Soon the artist was painting murals and posters again. His artistic “big break” arrived when he was hired to paint the interior of the Bi-Ba-Bo Club. The club was a popular nightlife spot due to its owner, high-society socialite, Russian countess Anna Zarenkau.

Three years later, at age 25, The New Yorker accepted his submission for the magazine's September 25, 1926, cover. His covers were satirical commentaries on American life; his artistic style experimental. Alajálov’s art was both Realist, and Cubist. Some of his works contain thick outlining reminiscent of Picasso’s early primitive style.

During his exclusive contract years (late 1920s to 1930s) with The New Yorker, Alajálov taught at The Phoenix Art Institute and Alexandre Archipenko’s Ecole D’Art (both in NYC). He also became the director of the Societe Anonyme for the Museum of Modern Art. During this fruitful time, the artist traveled the world visiting museums and studying art, composition, and technique. He visited Haiti in 1929, Cuba in 1933, Italy in 1938, Honolulu in 1939, and spent the majority of his summers in either Paris or on the French Riviera.

His first Post cover illustration appeared on October 6, 1945. By this time, Constantin Alajálov had made quite a name for himself in the commercial illustration industry. He had already provided cover work for magazines such as Vanity Fair, Town and Country, Fortune, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and House & Garden.  His work was so sought after that he was placed in the unique situation of overcoming traditional contract exclusivity between The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post.

Constantin Alajálov lived a life filled with adventure, travel, ups, downs, failures, and successes. He rose from Russian revolutionary refugee to the heights of the New York art world.  He was a global citizen, having traveled much of the world before the middle of the 20th century. His extensive travels were a feat for the time period. In retirement, Alajálov enjoyed swimming, horseback riding, tennis, piano, and golf. He died of natural causes at the age of 87 in 1987.

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Thomas Guernsey Moore (1874-1925) was a talented illustrator and an acknowledged authority on lettering, design, and decoration. He debuted his first Saturday Evening Post cover on June 30, 1900; he ultimately painted 63 covers for the Post, the final cover appearing on January 19, 1924.

Moore lived spent most of his life in Philadelphia area. He studied at Germantown Academy and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Early in his career, he worked at the Philadelphia Press and shared a studio with fellow Post illustrator George Gibbs.

Moore holds the distinction of designing the first color cover to appear in the Post. In 1900 he also designed a new style of lettering for the magazine’s masthead. In 1904 he became the art editor of the Post. Moore also held the position of art director at Country Gentleman magazine, the Beck Engraving Company, George L. Boyer Company, and Calkins & Holden. Later, he became a costumer and decorator for theaters and pageants, including a Red Cross pageant in 1917 and another on Women’s Suffrage in 1921.

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Richard “Dick” Sargent (1911-1979), one of The Saturday Evening Post’s most prolific illustrators, was a Midwesterner born in Moline, Illinois in 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 advanced further into creating professional artwork for advertising firms and later, a solo career as an artist and illustrator. The artist 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 School of Art 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. They later provided inspiration for some of his most successful works of art. He married his sweetheart, Helen, and had a rambunctious, mischief-prone redheaded 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 Baby Boomer households in everyday situations of suburban American life.

In 1951, Sargent completed his first Saturday Evening Post cover, “Truth About Santa”, for the December 15th Christmas issue. While Sargent’s popularity grew through The Saturday Evening Post, he also received illustration work from magazines such as Fortune, Woman’s Day, Photoplay, and American Magazine. Americans adored Sargent and his art for the ability to show a pregnant scene with an open-ended conclusion 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 again vacationed out of the North American continent to 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.

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The child who sets out to be a career artist and skips the “starving artist” phase has a rare story indeed. But Mead Schaeffer’s ability was undeniable, his talents easily promoted. Born July 15th, 1898 to Presbyterian pastor Charles and his wife, Minnie, Mead grew up knowing he wanted a career in art. His work brought fame and fortune alongside a lifelong friendship with another American master, Norman Rockwell.

Born in Freedom Plains, New York, the Schaeffer family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts when Mead was a little boy. He graduated high school in 1917, and moved to Brooklyn, New York shortly after to attend the Pratt Institute.
At the Pratt Institute, Schaeffer studied under Harvey Dunn and Charles Chapman. His two mentors had started their own school, the Leonis School of Illustration, in 1915. The school’s philosophy followed that of their own teacher, the famed instructor Howard Pyle. Experiencing various art groups in the city, Schaeffer became acquainted with Dean Cornwell. Mead’s relationship with Cornwell led to Schaeffer’s first jobs producing illustrations for smaller magazines and publications. He graduated at the top of his class, already a working artist, in 1920.

Throughout Mead Schaeffer’s 20s, he worked for Dodd, Mead & Company, a publishing house for classic literature. Schaeffer provided illustrations for sixteen prominent works including The Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables, Typee, and Moby Dick.

On September 17th, 1921, Schaeffer married his wife, Elizabeth. They had two daughters, Consolle and Patricia. New York City soon became too cramped for the family. They moved to Rye, NY and then the artists’ colony at New Rochelle, NY where the artist first met Norman Rockwell. He later moved to Arlington, Vermont where he kept a studio in an old barn as Rockwell’s next-door neighbor.
Schaeffer was introduced to Saturday Evening Post editor Ben Hibbs through Rockwell. Schaeffer’s relationship with the Post resulted in a career spanning thirty years and 46 cover illustrations. Schaeffer became most famous for chronicling the military with authenticity.

Rockwell and Schaeffer set out to pitch an idea to the government about ads for war bonds, but they were rejected. Hibbs picked up the idea and sponsored their work through The Saturday Evening Post. Schaeffer spent 1942 to 1944 as a war correspondent. He flew in planes, rode in submarines, and toured with soldiers to get a feel for the soldiers’ experiences in World War II. His collection, including 16 Saturday Evening Post covers, went on a tour to 92 cities in the United States and Canada. The tour’s purpose was to drum up sales for war bonds.

After the war, in the summer and fall of 1947, the Schaeffers and the Rockwells took a two and a half month family vacation to the American West. The families were so close many works by both artists contain the other’s children as models. Schaeffer’s wife often took dozens of photographs from all angles while the artist studied the scene. After the trip, the artist studied his wife’s photographs and incorporated their view into his work. From all of his sketches and studies, the trip provided only six Post covers.

Over the course of a 30-year career, Schaeffer provided 5,000 illustrations to books, magazines, and advertisements. His last cover for the Post was December 26th, 1953. He spent much of his retirement sketching and fly-fishing, often taking trips to Puerto Rico. By the end of his career, Schaeffer had worked for The American, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Scribners, Home Companion, Ladie’s Home Journal, Redbook, McCall’s, St. Nichol’s Century Magazine, and of course, The Saturday Evening Post.

He died of a heart attack on November 6th, 1980 while at lunch with his contemporaries at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. Today his works are on display at the USAA in San Antonio, Texas.

(Photo: Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©Norman Rockwell Family Agency.)

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Born in Illinois as Marjorie McMein, this cover artist left the Midwest, changed her name to Neysa, and turned herself into the quintessential New York woman. McMein was modern and independent; she fought for women’s right to vote and worked overseas during World War I creating posters for the U.S. and French government. Back in New York, she lived above Carnegie Hall where she held parties for her friends, many of whom were famous, including Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, Dorothy Parker, and Richard Rodgers.

McMein was most famous for her portraits, and painted presidents Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover. Her portrait illustrations were drawn for magazines and advertising; McMein even drew the first Betty Crocker illustration for General Mills in 1936, launching the brand. Her work for magazine covers, including McCall’s, Collier’s, and 60 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, portrayed young women of the 1920s as we picture them today, stylish and full of life.

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A born Californian from San Francisco, Amos Sewell enjoyed the sun and all the activities warm weather had to offer. In his youth, Sewell was a ranked amateur tennis player (15th in Singles and 9th in Doubles). He was a banker during the day who took art classes for fun. After repeated losses to his champion tennis rival, Donald Budge, he decided to quit the sport. A tennis star throughout the 1920s, Sewell had moved into the world of professional illustration by The Great Depression era of the 1930s.

He began his art education taking eight years worth of night classes at The California School of Fine Arts while working as a banker at Wells Fargo. Sewell worked at the bank from 1916-1930. He always enjoyed art, and often took vacation time to drive up the California coast to paint. It was on one of these trips that Sewell decided to make a career out of his art by moving to New York City.

In 1930, Sewell made the move. To pay his way, he worked a lumber-boat from California to New York down the coast and through the Panama Canal.

Once in New York City, Sewell took more classes at The Art Students League and the Grand Central School of Art. In art school, Amos studied under famed instructors Guy Pene Du Bois and Harvey Dunn. Each of whom became the artist’s entre into the New York City art scene. He also studied privately with Julian Levi at his studio in Easthampton, Long Island after having completed his formal schooling.

In 1932, he married his sweetheart, Ruth Allen. The two never had any children. Though a talented artist, Sewell complained that work was hard to find in the worst years of the Great Depression, specifically 1933 and 1934. He spent his days practicing illustration when there was no work to be done. Soon that period ended, however, and the experience of practice had prepared him to shine as a masterful illustrator.

One of the few financially stable working artists of the early to mid-twentieth century, Sewell kept up his passion for tennis as a hobby. His last documented tournament victory was the 1934 Cup for Westchester County, New York.

Quickly, Sewell began receiving regular work from advertising agencies and magazines around the city. All the incoming work provided a better quality of life. Eventually, he and his wife chose to move from the East Village of Manhattan to the artist’s colony in Westport, Connecticut. During World War II, he won an art award for creating the nation’s best war bond illustrations.

Amos Sewell’s successful career led him to produce covers and illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, True, Today’s Woman, Coronet, Liberty, and Country Gentleman. He illustrated for Street & Smith detective “pulp” stories, and a novel, MacKinley Kantor’s “Valedictory.” He was privately contracted to illustrate for large national advertising accounts, but admitted that he had to give those up to focus on his added workload from The Post.

Though Sewell had no children of his own, the artist idealized childhood. He often chose to depict its innocence with empathic images of children playing or unknowingly making mistakes.

Amos and Ruth lived out a quiet life in Westport, Connecticut until Amos’s death in October of 1983 at the age of 82. Today, Sewell is remembered as one of The Saturday Evening Post’s best artist-illustrators.

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John Atherton (1900-1952) was born on June 7, 1900 in Brainerd, Minnesota, but his family moved to the West Coast shortly after his birth. John spent his high school years in Spokane, Washington, where he derived great satisfaction from nature. These elements would emerge in Atherton’s oil paintings as well as his commercial work in the years to come. Nature would also become a place in which John could collect his thoughts and refresh his creativity.

Atherton’s first recollection of an interest in art came when he painted a portrait of his aunt and received a favorable response. John completed his art education from the California College of Arts in San Francisco. In the process, he also worked in the surrounding studios developing his oil painting techniques. A first prize award of five hundred dollars financed John’s trip to New York, which helped launch his career. Atherton accomplished his first one-man show in Manhattan in 1936. His Painting, “The Black Horse” won the three thousand dollar fourth prize from among 14,000 entries. This painting now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

As his career began to unfold, John Atherton found a rhythm that allowed him to develop his work in the both the artistic and the advertising arena. On November 2, 1926, he married Maxine Breese. Over time, the couple found themselves migrating to Westport, Connecticut which boasted an artistic community that rivaled none other. John Atherton’s first cover for The Saturday Evening Post was created in 1942, and continued with regularity until 1961. After a grand tour of the United States, this would become home for John’s wife Maxine and daughter Mary. The Atherton’s socialized with fellow artist, Mead Schaeffer and his wife which often lead to a variety of excursions which provided subjects to expound upon on canvas. The community provided not only a social outlet, but also a creative environment to cultivate and express his ideas.

It seems fitting that John Carleton Atherton would die as he lived, in tune with nature. His death occurred while he was salmon fishing in New Brunswick, Canada in 1952 at age 52.

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Born in New York City in 1907, George Hughes grew up in the epicenter of twentieth century art and advertising.  He stayed in the city until adulthood, skipping college to attend the National Academy of Design and the Art Students’ League in the city.

After having finished his education, he provided freelance illustrations to the fashion industry including works for Vanity Fair and House and Garden.  In 1936, the automotive industry drew him away from New York to Detroit.  He worked in a stable job, contracted as a special designer, a Mechanical Designer for car companies.  He disliked the industry, and shortly thereafter moved back to New York City.

Upon returning to the city, he had a short-lived first marriage and joined the Charles E. Cooper Studio.  He created art and copy for the firm, and was eventually picked up as a talent for representation by American Artists.  He quickly remarried.  This time, love lasted a lifetime.  He married a woman named Casey, and the two had a total of five daughters.

In 1942, Hughes caught the eye of Saturday Evening Post Art Director, Ken Stuart.  Hughes had created a simple illustration for an interior fiction piece in the magazine.  Stuart then commissioned Hughes for a series of WWII portraits of American generals titled “These Are the Generals.”  This collection brought Hughes early national fame, and the Post kept tabs on his developing work for later possible covers.

With a growing family, Hughes and his wife decided they needed more living space.  It was time to leave New York’s urban sprawl.  George knew that Arlington, Vermont was growing in popularity among American artists.  The Schaeffers, the Rockwells, and the Athertons were all family friends who lived there.  In 1946, George and Casey bought a small farm near the other artists.

Their apparent reasons for purchase included the scenery and good business. The Hughes’s wanted to cultivate an air of artistic sophistication, forcing themselves into the popular artist group.  Their plan paid off as Hughes soon became a recurring Post cover artist.

Hughes once remarked that he enjoyed sailing in summer, duck hunts in the fall, and skiing in winter.  Arlington, Vermont turned out to be the perfect place to build his life.  The Hughes’s developed lasting friendships as well.  George often ran into Norman Rockwell in downtown Arlington.  Rockwell would ask George’s opinion on his sketch ideas, but constantly painted the opposite of George’s advice in his final draft.  The situation became a running joke between the two artists.

George Hughes’s first Saturday Evening Post cover was on the April 17th, 1948 issue.  From that point on, Hughes had a successful career in the art world.  He completed a total of 115 Post covers, along with illustrations for McCall’s, Woman’s Day, American Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, and many more.

Hughes, more than any other Post artist except Rockwell, survived the rise of photography.  His last Post cover was July 14th, 1962 until he completed one more for the magazine revival in 1971.  In the 1970s, he switched professions in the art world to become a successful portrait artist.  He lived a full life, and died in 1990.  During his lifetime, Hughes had seen his work on display in the Detroit Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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