Monday, November 28, 2022

In the Beginning: Ernest Hamlin Baker

Ernest Hamlin Baker (1889-1975) is best known for the many cover illustration he made for Time Magazine 1940-1957.   I first wrote about him here.

A fairly lengthy biographical article about Baker is here.  Among other things, it mentions his time as a student at Colgate University, where he was a Big Man on Campus.

I know it's usually unfair to present artist's early work, but I'll do so now because I happened to come across some illustrations Baker made for the 1912 edition of Salmagundi, the school's yearbook.   Moreover, Baker entered college a few years older than normal, so he was more mature than the usual yearbook's student artist.

(The link has him entering Colgate at age 21, but that does not seem to jibe with the yearbook, whose content suggests he might have been 19 or 20.)


An example of Baker's Time cover portraits.

His yearbook entry.  The first set of Greek letters indicates that he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

Introductory art for the yearbook's Freshman (entry) class section.   Following are illustrations for other classes and some college activities. 

Although Baker's cartoon style in in line with the fashion of the day, hints of his carefully-drawn later work can be seen here.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Zdeněk Burian: More Than Dinosaurs

Zdeněk Burian (1905-1981) was a Czechoslovak illlustrator best known for his depictions of prehistoric subjects.  His Englifh language Wikipedia entry is here.

The link does not mention his training, though it can be found in the French version.  He studied for a while at Prague's fine arts academy, but was mostly self-taught.  Since his father was an architect, he was exposed to illustration techniques while young.  That said, his technique changed little over his long career.

He was a very good illustrator with a feeling for action and atmosphere.  Wikipedia notes that once his work became known outside Czechoslovakia, it became influential in the field of paleontology illustration.

The images below show that his versatility extended beyond dinosaurs.


A representative Burian dinosaur illustration.

A Pterosaur in a science-fiction setting.

Cave bears and hunters.

Painting cave walls.

An illustration for "Tarzan of the Apes" Chapter VIII.

Shooting a leopard.  Excellent depiction of the hunter as well as that of the beast.

French army attacking during the Great War.

Desert warriors.

"Madonna 20th Century"- 1962 - was the caption on the Web.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Sagrada Familia from a Higher Perspective

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia basilica is a fascinating work of architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi.   Nowadays it's a major tourist attraction as well as the city's architectural symbol (akin to Paris' Eiffel Tower, London's Big Ben and Seattle's Space Needle).

I was in Barcelona November 2021, took photos of the Sagrada Familia, and posted about its exterior details here and its interior here.

I was in Barcelona again early October 2022, and took more photos of the exterior.  What makes these pictures somewhat different is their viewpoint.  It seems we stayed one night in a nearby apartment building on its fourth floor (fifth floor, in American terms).  That way, I was looking more at the Sagrada than up at it.

Some of the photos I took are presented below.  Click on them to enlarge.


Mid-morning view taken with my camera's zoom lens.

Looking up.  It seems that some of the original towers are getting spruced up.

Top of the Virgin Mary tower.  The year before, the star was still at ground level, awaiting placement.

Looking west along the north side of the Sagrada.

Tourists.  Some at the right are clustered around a model showing future additions to the building.  Note how small they are relative to even the east entrance.

Taken early evening on my iPhone.  The sun is about to set in the west.  Tours have been closed by this hour.

Sagrada Familia is lighted after sunset.  What appears to be a light shining between towers is the moon.

Later view taken by my iPhone.

Monday, November 7, 2022

John Gannam's Bedroom Scenes

John Gannam - né Fouzi Hanna Boughanam - (1905 or 1907 - 1965) was a highly skilled and respected illustrator active from the 1920s until his death at age 59.   Besides being reclusive, other departures from the norm were his extensive use of watercolor and that he apparently was totally self-taught.

Here are some background sources.  Society of Illustrators: here for views by fellow illustrators.  A detailed appreciation by illustration maven David Apatoff: here. James Gurney: here, presenting Gannam's depictions of mothers and children.

Another example of multiple illustrations with a common theme is bedroom scenes, the subject of today's post.

One reason for those bedroom scenes was that Gannam was contracted to illustrate advertisements for Pacific Mills' bedsheets.  But he also painted some bedroom scenes under other circumstances.


First, five Pacific Mills illustrations.

I'm not sure if this was for Pacific Mills or was a story illustration.

The same applies here.

For the story "Guest Husband," Ladies' Home Journal, March 1946.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Who was "Otis"?

Around 1930 there was an American advertising illustrator whose style was Moderne.  Aside from the featured product, the rest of the work was comprised of thin, simple lines and flat, lightly shaded areas.   Colors were black, white and grays.   These were signed "OTIS" with the signature partly hidden.

I found a number of such advertisements for Studebaker automobiles, and they are displayed below.   Interestingly, the same model year (1929), Studebaker also had more traditional-looking full color advertisements.  Perhaps placement of each style depended on the target magazine.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to discover who Otis was.  Internet searches have turned up nothing useful so far.  One possible source is the New York Art Director Club annual for, say, 1930.   But copies are not convenient to where I live.

At this point, I can think of two possibilities.  One is Samual D. Otis (1888-1961) who did some commercial illustration.  Another is Otis Shepard (1894-1969), best known for his Wrigley's chewing gum advertising.  I wrote about him here.  Once upon a time I had a book about Shepard and his wife, but it was discarded during a downsizing a few years ago.  Sadly, it might have offered information on my Otis problem.

Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can provide an answer in Comments.

Click on images to enlarge.


Here are seven 1929 Studebaker advertisements by Otis.

This ad is from 1930.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Scott Evans' Magazine Covers

Today's post features 1930s-vintage magazine covers illustrated by Scott Evans.

I know essentially nothing about him.

Part of the problem is that there was a 19th century painter with a similar name (De Scott Evans) who crowds out the illustrator Scott Evans on Web searches.  Also, he is missing from my hardcopy illustration sources.

Evans' heyday was the mid-to-late 1930s, though he is known to have been active in the late-1940s.  As illustrators from that era go, he was fairly successful, contributing cover art to Collier's and Liberty magazines.  Collier's was a major magazine in those days, but half a notch below the Saturday Evening Post, and I peg Liberty as a notch below Collier's.

Perhaps Evans' fame problem was due to the style he often used: a slightly cartoony one.  He was capable of more representational art, so I cannot rule out that magazine art directors had him "pigeonholed" stylistically.  Once his run of cover art was over, it's possible that he changed his style to the needs of clients.  And then dropped off the well-known-illustrator radar.

Below are a number his covers plus a postwar glamour image.  Click on images to enlarge.


Collier's - 5 March 1932
Humorous subjects were popular in those Great Depression days.

Collier's - 3 June 1933
Representational, simplified, but not cartoony.

Collier's - 3 February 1934
Pretty girls in season-appropriate outfits.

Collier's - 9 March 1935
Another dog, but not a funny one.

Liberty - 26 September 1936
For some reason, artists often had trouble with "tin hat" helmets, though Evans probably simplified their shape on purpose here.

Liberty - 31 October 1936
This nice illustration has been credited to Evans on some Web sites, but I see no signature.  Perhaps it was covered by the blue circle.

Liberty - 7 November 1936
More cartoon-like than usual for Evans.

Liberty - 21 November 1936
Another nice illustration.  Both the woman and the car are attractive.

Liberty (Canada) - 10 April 1937
No message here, just a pretty girl.

Collier's - 17 May 1941
Perhaps his final Collier's cover.

Publication unknown - 1948
Evans was capable of conventional 1940s glamour illustration.