Friday, 18 October 2019

Charles Dana Gibson - part 1

Charles Dana Gibson 1867-1944, was interested in art as a boy while watching his father cut silhouettes; he was born into a wealthy New England family from Roxbury, then a suburb of Boston. He started cutting silhouettes himself at eight, and by the time he was twelve, he was selling them at exhibitions. At fourteen years of age, through family connections, he was apprenticed to sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Cornish Colony friend of Maxfield Parrish. After nearly a year in the Saint-Gaudens studio, he determined that sculpture was not his main interest and he took up pen and ink. His parents, recognising artistic talent, enrolled him in the Art Students League. In 1885, due to an unforeseen family financial hardship, he left school at just eighteen to start his career. After trying unsuccessfully to get a job, he happened on Life, a new magazine competing with already well-established competitors, Puck and Judge.

His monthly salary started at $33, rising each month to $185 in the third month. His value to Life was clearly tangible to both publisher and illustrator from the first drawing, for his work caused circulation to increase. At the same time, he did illustrations for Tid-Bits, later re-named Time magazine. By 1890, Gibson was illustrating articles for Scribner's, Century, and Harper's.
In 1890, he started drawing 'The Gibson Girl' and later featured her in his first full independent portfolio in 1894. Undoubtedly, Irene Langhorne Gibson, his wife, was the model for 'The Gibson Girl.’ 1904, Robert Collier and Condé Nast tried to sign Gibson to their magazine team at Collier's Weekly, just as they had done with Pyle, Remington and Parrish. Gibson refused due to his loyalty to Life, but they compromised and agreed to a sharing relationship with Life, with a contract of $100,000 for 100 illustrations over a four-year period.

In 1905, Gibson yearned to give up his pen and ink drawings to emulate other artists whom he respected most by using oil paints like Abbey, Frost, Remington, and Parrish. At the height of his career, it was too expensive for him to stop working -  his annual salary had reached $75,000. Gibson's period of greatest popularity was between 1900 and 1910, although he was productive well into the 1920's. His best-known subject was the proverbial 'Gibson Girl'. She became known as an ideal image of youthful American femininity, the modern woman: athletic, smart, stylish, and desirable, and she sold magazines. In fact, whole fashion lines were started when Gibson placed a ribbon on her forehead or a certain style dress on her tall statuesque figure.

In 1917, after forming the Society of Illustrators, Gibson convened a group of illustrators pledging their efforts to win the war including Flagg, Leyendecker, Christy, and others. They set up as The Division of Pictorial Publicity in the US Office of Public Information with Gibson as head. Later, Gibson took the defeat of the Germans as an important quest to save Western Civilization. After the war he continued to illustrate, but the public was now interested in flappers, jazz music, fast cars and booze; 'The Gibson Girl' was no longer de rigueur.

In 1920, Gibson headed a syndicate of illustrators, writers, and staff members and bought Life magazine at auction with Gibson having the controlling shares. New competition from the New Yorker, Fortune and Time all pressured Life, and it slumped further into near demise when Gibson sold it in 1932. At the retirement age of 65, he obligingly retired from Life, and finally took up oil painting and ventured into portraits. The American Academy of Arts and Letters exhibited his paintings and a New York Times critic exclaimed, "Make no mistake about it, Charles Dana Gibson is a painter." The public had long assumed that pen and ink were his only tools, but they soon forgot him, his technique, and 'The Gibson Girl.' In the autumn of 1944, Gibson suffered a heart attack on his island off the coast of Maine. By request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gibson was flown via Navy seaplane to New York, where he died a few weeks later.

This part 1 of a 12-part series on the works of Charles Dana Gibson:

1893 "There is no harm in a summer flirtation," says many a young man. But what is fair for one is fair for the other, and...
Life Publishing Co.

1893 The Dog: Here he has been hanging around us for a month, and we leave to-night.
Life Publishing Co.

1893-94c "And Art Subdues the Strong," - Homer.
 pen and ink on paper

1893-94c One Minute After Eight.

1894 In Leap Year.
The ladies, after a little wine and tobacco, join the gentlemen in the drawing room.

1894 Puzzle.
 Find the two lovers.

1894 The American Girl Abroad.
Some Features of the Matrimonial Market.

1894 The Young One: I beg your pardon, Sir, but I believe it is my turn next.

1894 Distinguished Guests

1894 His everlasting experiments with ill-mated pairs.

1894 In Paris.
Some sidewalk types.

Life Publishing Co.

1894 In Paris.
A café artist.
Life Publishing Co.

1894 In Paris.
At the Jardin de Paris.

Life Publishing Co.

1894 Life's Birthday.

1894 Social Pastimes
pen and ink

1894 That Delicious Moment
pen and ink

1894 The American Girl Abroad.
 pen and ink

1894 The Rival Operas.
 line photo-engraving 24 x 37 cm
New York Public Library

1894 Vacation is over

1894-1908c Puzzle
A funny story. Find the Englishman.

1894-1908c The Wretched Heathen.

1894-1908c When our eccentric relative becomes an object of interest

1895 A Lovers' Quarrel.
Some mothers are good matchmakers, but -
Life Publishing Co.

1895 College Girls by Abbe Carter Goodloe
published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
poster 38 x 31 cm

1895 College Girls by Abbe Carter Goodloe
"She has stolen furtive glances at her"

1895 Scribner's April
Library of Congress, Washington, DC

1895 Scribner's for June

1895 The Coming Game.
Yale versus Vassar
pen and ink on paper
Life Publishing Co.

1895 The Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis
published by Harper & Brothers, New York
 poster 51 x 34 cm

1895 The Princess Sonia
relief and letterpress 47 x 34.2 cm ( sheet )

1895 Their presence of mind
They had been in their room but a moment when they were startled by a knock.
Life Publishing Co.

1895-96c The Hunt Ball.

1895-96c Untitled
( seamstress and client )

1895-96c Untitled

1896 A Child of Fortune

1896 A Child of Fortune


1896 Edge of the Orient
book cover illustration

1896 In Days to Come the Churches May Be Fuller.
 Life Publishing Co.

1895 About Paris illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson
 Harper & Bros., New York:

1895 "Around some stately dignitary"

1895 "Standing on their feet for hours at a time"

1895 "Tes dans la rue, va, t'es cheztoi"

1895 A Café Chantant

1895 At the Jardin de Paris

1895 In the Latin Quarter

1895c American Bock
pen and ink over graphite laid down on paperboard  

52.7 x 72.4 cm

1895c Choucroute et Jambon
pen and ink over graphite 66 x 83.8 cm

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