Friday, March 27, 2015

Edward Penfield and His Poster Style

Edward Penfield (1866-1925) is considered America's first great poster artist. His Wikipedia entry is here, a chronology of his life and career is here and a Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame appreciation is here.

His posters and magazine covers might seem pretty tame today, but they were striking when they first rolled off the presses. His basic style was cloisonniste, using dark outlines with areas filled in using flat colors. However, Penfield's outlines tended to be on the thin side, so the impression generated was more like a conventional illustration than something with a more designed look that thick outlines might have yielded.


Harper's poster - August 1897
That's a semi-enclosed beach chair next to the girl, with beach houses and a boardwalk in the background. Harper's was and is a magazine, and Penfield was one of its art directors for about ten years during the 1890s and designed and illustrated many of its publicity posters.

Collier's cover - 28(?) April 1902
Just in time for the start of baseball season.

Pierce-Arrow advertising - ca. 1907
Pierce-Arrow was an American luxury automobile maker whose fortunes steadily declined after the Great War of 1914-18.  Here, it was in its heyday.

Penn and Cornell athletes - ca. 1907
Similar posters were done for some other Ivy schools. In all cases, we view huge bodies and comparatively tiny heads.

Collier's cover - 10 October 1914
This seems to be in reaction to the start of the Great War in August of 1914, even though the USA was not yet at war.

Collier's cover art, ca. 1918
The caption on the Web where I found this indicated that it was for Collier's, but I can't yet verify that.  Again, the heads are a bit too small.

Washington's Birthday Holiday poster

Saturday Evening Post cover - 4 March 1905
This is interesting because here Penfield did not use his usual flat, poster style of illustration.

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