Sunday, September 1, 2013

Society of Illustrators Profile: Mead Schaeffer

Born in Freedom Plains, New York in 1898, Mead Schaeffer knew at the early age of seven he wanted to be an artist. He attended Pratt Institute and then continued his studies under the care of artists Dean Cornwell and Harvey Dunn. Their influences can be seen in his moody pieces with their strong compositions. Wanting to have the brush strokes clearly visible in his bold approach of applying paint to canvass was important to give it a more painterly quality. Starting a career in his early twenties, the first works focused on numerous swashbuckling and romantic subjects, as well as drawings pieces for the major magazines. Schaeffer also drew sixteen classics novels which he is well known for including Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Growing tired of drawing costumed stories, he worked with The Saturday Evening Post travelling the country doing features on contemporary factual Americana. As the next door neighbor to Norman Rockwell in Vermont, the two artists often traveled together to the West resulting in many a fine Saturday Evening Post covers. During World War II, Schaeffer created a pictorial chronicle of the fourteen branches of the Armed Services for the Post which travelled the country in over ninety museums. Even though Schaeffer had a stroke in 1980, he wanted to attend the Society of Illustrators luncheon to see old friends, where the artist collapsed and died among his fellow artists.

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