Leslie Thrasher (1889-1936) is an intriguing artist who did 23 Saturday Evening Post covers, with as many as 360 magazine covers throughout his career. A native of Piedmont, West Virginia, Thrasher had excellent credentials: studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts while still a teenager, then a traveling scholarship to the Ecole de Grande Chaumiere in Paris. World War I interrupted the life of the artist who served in France and sadly, was seriously affected by poison gas. Returning to the United States, he married, moved to Long Island, and studied under renowned illustrator Howard Pyle.
Boys and horses were a common theme in Thrasher’s art. As much as horses appeared in his work, he did a delightful job painting people. His covers were similar to J.C. Leyendecker, emphasizing the comic elements of the young and old. Conference on the Mound was the first cover Thrasher ever sold—for a whopping $50 in 1912. Little more than a decade later, by 1924, he signed for a series of covers for Liberty magazine, for which he was paid a handsome $1000 each. Happily, he was still doing covers for the Post, and despite his fine arts background, his commercial success was impressive, with ads for Chesterfield cigarettes and Cream of Wheat among his prodigious output.
In 1975, the Post used Thrasher’s Tipping the Scales as a cookbook cover. The painting was originally done in 1936, which marked a tragic year for the artist. A fire at his home in December not only destroyed much of Thrasher’s work, but led to severe smoke inhalation and ultimately fatal pneumonia.