|Howard Chandler Christy|
Portrait of Christy, by himself
January 10, 1872|
"Morgan County, Ohio
|Died||March 3, 1952
Hotel des Artistes, #707 1 W. 67th Street, New York, New York
|Occupation||artist and illustrator|
|Notable work||Gee I wish I were a Man I'd Join the Navy, Portrait of Dorothy Barton Thomas, "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, The Christy Girl|
Howard Chandler Christy (January 10, 1872 – March 3, 1952) was an American artist and "illustrator, famous for the "Christy Girl" – a colorful and illustrious successor to the ""Gibson Girl" – who became the most popular portrait painter of the Jazz Age era. Christy painted such luminaries as Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, and Presidents Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, and Truman. Other famous people include William Randolph Hearst, the Prince of Wales (Edward the VIII), Eddie Rickenbacker, Benito Mussolini, Prince Umberto, Amelia Earhart. From the 1920s until the 1940s, Christy was well known for capturing the likenesses of congressmen, senators, industrialists, movies stars, and socialites.
Christy was born in "Morgan County and attended early school in "Duncan Falls, Ohio. He then studied in New York at the "Art Students League from 1890 to 1891 and then at the "National Academy under "William Merritt Chase, first at Chase's summer retreat at Shinnecock, Long Island, and then at his 10th Street Studio.
Christy first attracted attention with his realistic illustrations and several articles as a "combat artist during the "Spanish–American War that included the "Battle of Las Guasimas, the "Battle of El Caney and the "Battle of San Juan Hill, published in "Scribner's, "Harper's, and "Leslie's Weekly magazines, and in "Collier's Weekly. Christy gained especial prominence with the series, "Men of the Army and Navy", and a portrait of "Colonel Roosevelt that appeared on the cover of his "Rough Riders series published in Scribner's. These illustrations propelled Christy to national prominence. From this, he decided to turn away from war and painting men in uniform. Instead, he yearned for beauty and created the "Christy Girl", redefining the portrayal of women in America through his illustrations and portraits. He captured the modern American woman – tall, confident, elegant, witty and athletic.
He would paint patriotic posters for the "US Navy and "US Marine Corps. He also came to be known for his illustrations of the works of such as the well-known "war correspondent, "Richard Harding Davis.
He illustrated books during this period as well.
Having made his reputation for his work as a combat artist and in support of America's "World War One effort, Christy soon was illustrating for numerous magazine covers. He became famous for the "Christy Girl", a picturesque and romantic type of society women peculiarly his own. His work, whether in watercolor, oils, or pen-and-ink, is characterized by great facility, a dashing but not exaggerated style and a strong sense of values. Together with fellow artists "Harrison Fisher and "Neysa McMein he constituted the "Motion Picture Classic magazine's "Fame and Fortune" contest jury of 1921–22, who discovered the "It girl, "Clara Bow.
In 1940, he painted the "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, which was installed in the "House of Representatives wing in the "United States Capitol. Some of his work, newly cleaned, is on display at The Leopard at des Artistes restaurant, the successor to the legendary New York City restaurant "Café des Artistes. They include six panels of wood nymphs and paintings such as The Parrot Girl, The Swing Girl, Ponce De Leon, Fall, Spring and the Fountain of Youth.
Another Christy painting has been displayed at the "Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. The Zanesville Museum of Art in "Zanesville, Ohio, has on permanent display Christy's Portrait of Dorothy Barton Thomas, with other Christy posters, prints and paintings in their collection.
Christy was married twice, both times to women who had modeled for him as one of his "Christy Girls". The first was Maebelle Gertrude Thompson, whom he married on October 15, 1898, shortly after his return from the "Spanish–American War. They had a daughter named Natalie Chandler Christy. They finally divorced in May 1919, after over ten years of periodic separation and bitter divorce and custody battles.
His second marriage was to Nancy Mae (née Coone) Palmer, a widow who had modeled for him for over eight years prior to their marriage.
In the early 1930s, he met Elise Ford who became his model for the murals on "Café des Artistes wall. Elise Ford was also Christy's model for the 1941 "I Am An American Poster" personifying America "rushing forward to give the touch of the contagion of liberty and democracy to the rest of the world" in the words of then New York Mayor "Fiorello H. La Guardia. Forty years his junior, she became Christy's companion until his death at age 80. They had a daughter named Holly (Holly Christina Longuski née Holly Ford) born in 1939 while he was painting "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States.
A novelistic biography of Christy, The Magic of Youth, was published in 2016 by James Philip Head. It is the first book in a projected trilogy titled An Affair with Beauty - The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy. Subsequent volumes will be published in 2018 and 2020.
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