Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Uncovering the Working Class Illustrator

Part of my mission here on VIEW has always been to bring to light some of the period illustration that for one reason or another, did not survive the ages. Yes, it's there for us to dig up, but not all of it is as easy to find as Arthur Rackham and Maxfield Parrish. I like finding the "Illustrators that Time Forgot". Most of them did some great work—otherwise they wouldn't have gotten the job in the first place...

Today's subject falls squarely in that category. While he was never a big book illustrator —choosing to work primarily in magazines—that path certainly limited his visible longevity. The few books he did do had little staying power among their titles. Frederick C. Yohn (1875-1933) is a name I've been paging over for years, while I search through old volumes of Scribner's Magazines, Harpers, and Colliers. Yohn was incredibly prolific from about 1895-1920, usually tackling scenes of contemporary living, some light romance, or occasionally the modern war story. (His Spanish-American War works were in high demand at the end of the 1890s) Historic work was also to his liking, and he did many scenes of the Revolution as well. Originally from Indiana, Yohn went on to become of the founders of The Society of Illustrators in NYC.
His skill set, ease with contemporary settings as well as historic ones, and ability, must have made him a reliable work-horse to the publishers that used him.

Pictured here are a WWI poster, three magazine pieces, and a painting that hangs in the Utica Public Library, of General Herkimer at the Battle of Oriskany.