Monday, May 17, 2021

Dan Smith, Almost-Forgotten Illustrator of Merit

Daniel Frederik Schmidt (1865-1934), who changed his name to Dan Smith for professional reasons, was born in Greenland to Danish parents who later moved to the USA.  Much of his illustration work appeared in newspapers.  That, and his common name, might account for his lack of notoriety in illustration history.   Too bad, because he did very nice work.

Biographical information can be found here and here.

One problem with newspaper illustration -- especially when papers were printed using letterpress on newsprint -- is the poor quality of reproduction.  That could easily degrade the appearance of an artist's work.  Some of Smith's illustrations were printed using color, and newspaper color was pretty crude 80 or 130 years ago.  Images below include a few comparisons of color and non-color for the same artwork: click on them and others to enlarge.


Spainish Queen's visit
That's not the queen in his color illustration.

First Air Flight in Fairyland - 1926
One of a series.

Helen in Search of a Charming Prince - Atlanta Constitution - 26 March 1933
Examples of artwork before color might have been added.

How We Caught the Beautiful Rainbow Boa - 1921

Romance and Near Tragedy in Ancient Babylon - Atlanta Constitution - 9 April 1933

Jael - Philadelphia Record - 4 March 1928
Colorized illustration.

Jael, black and white

Desert Love - 27 July 1930
As it appeared in print.

Desert Love detail - black and white
Much better here.

Sequicentennial poster - 1926
Example of non-newspaper illustration.

Lady and Tiger
Another example.  Smith seems to have enjoyed illustrating lovely, partly-clad women.

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