Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cartoonist Walter Hoban | Jerry's Dog is Camouflaged

Below This camouflage cartoon by American artist Walter Hoban (1890-1939) was featured in a comic strip series called Jerry on the Job. It was published in the South Bend News Times (South Bend IN), July 28, 1917.


Monday, July 29, 2019

WWI Cartoon Search for Slackers and Draft Dodgers

Above This camouflage-themed cartoon was distributed in the US by the Bell Syndicate. It appeared in the Pottsville Republican (Pottsville PA), January 31, 1918. The signature is less than clear, but it was probably created by a California-based cartoonist named Edmund Waller Gale Jr. (1884-1975).

Friday, July 19, 2019

Camouflage Artist | John Dwight Bridge

Portrait of a Lady in a Red Dress by J. Dwight Bridge (n.d.)
J(ohn) Dwight Bridge was born on December 9, 1893, in St. Louis MO, where his family was socially prominent, wealthy and influential. His ancestors had been among the founders of Washington University. Having moved from Walpole MA to St. Louis, his family “made a fortune” from the railroad and the manufacture of cast-iron stoves.

Dwight attended a prestigious private school in Pawling NY. He then went on to study art at the Art Students League in New York, where he worked with painter, muralist and interior designer Albert Herter, whose father had co-founded the Herter Brothers interior design firm in New York, and whose son was Christian Herter, Secretary of State in the Eisenhower administration.

In 1917, having returned to St. Louis, Bridge announced his intention to “give up his career in art to enter the Episcopal ministry.” But when the US entered World War I, he decided instead to enlist as a camouflage artist. In September 1918, when the US Army formed its first camouflage unit, he was among the first to enlist, along with fellow artists Barry Faulkner (Abbott H. Thayer’s cousin), Sherry E. Fry, William Twigg-Smith from Hawaii, and Everit Herter (son of Albert Herter), who had only recently married.

Appointed Sergeant Major (and soon after First Lieutenant), Bridge was the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer of the group. He shared a tent with the unit’s leading commissioned officer, Lieutenant Homer Saint-Gaudens, the son of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the celebrated American sculptor. After months of training at Camp American University in Washington DC, the camouflage unit (officially known as Company A of the 40th Engineers) departed for France at the end of December 1918. In the subsequent months at the front, two members of the unit died in action, including Everit Herter, who was killed at Chateau-Thierry. Following the war, Bridge lived in Paris, then resettled in New York.

In 1918, five weeks before her husband's death, Everit Herter's wife had given birth to a son named Everit Herter Jr., who never saw his father. Around 1920, Dwight Bridge relocated to Santa Barbara CA, where his former teacher Albert Herter had established a new permanent studio at his mother’s former estate, called El Mirasol. Bridge married Everit Herter’s widow, Caroline Keck Herter, and thus became the stepfather of Everit Herter Jr. In July 1919, the Herters’ second son, named Albert, died in Santa Barbara at the age of two years and ten months. In their early years of marriage, Dwight Bridge and Caroline Herter Bridge became parents of two of their own sons, Matthew and John Jr.


J. Dwight Bridge (c1933)
In the 1920s, Bridge’s marriage fell apart. After several years of estrangement, he and his wife obtained a divorce in 1933. At about the same time, Bridge’s father died in St Louis, and he was slated to receive an inheritance of about $100,000 (worth nearly two million dollars today). In newspaper interviews, he revealed that he would refuse to accept it, saying that “an inheritance is more of a hindrance than a help.” Instead, he gave the money to his former wife and their children, and announced that henceforth he would survive as what he called a “vagabond” or “hobo”  artist.

He decided to hitchhike somewhat aimlessly around the country (his travels would take him as far as Japan and China) all the time earning his living by painting portraits. Carrying few possessions and almost no money, he began his trek in Salina KS, “the geological center of the United States.” According to a 1933 newspaper story (of which there were many, since his story was rightly regarded as odd, even bizarre), having arrived at Salina at 9:30 in the evening, he “laid all his money—30 cents—and his half-filled package of cigarettes down on the station platform, buried his wedding ring and, although it was night, immediately began a search for employment. He was 40 years old.” He was allowed to sleep in jail that night, and, in the morning, began to hitchhike west, earning his meals and lodging by various means. He was, he explained to reporters, “a man from the East, without any funds, a painter who could whitewash fences and paint doors, portraits or murals.”

The news stories bore fruit. After trading pencil portraits of meals, he was soon receiving commissions for portrait painting. The first was for $200, but he gradually raised the price to $500. On his trip to Japan, where he had eight commissions, he stopped over in Hawaii to see his former fellow camoufleur, William Twigg-Smith, whose relatives owned the newspaper there. From Hawaii, he flew back to the US mainland, then resettled in New York, while also continuing to travel around, from city to city, painting portraits of the rich in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dayton OH, San Francisco, Palm Beach, Colorado Springs, and elsewhere.

In a 1946 article in the Palm Beach Post, there is a pencil portrait of US Navy Captain Martin L. Marquette, who was then the commanding officer of the Naval Special Hospital (about to be closed) in Palm Beach. The drawing, the article explains, “is the work of J. Dwight Bridge, portrait artist and veteran of both World War I and II, to whom the closing of the hospital will signal a return to civilian life. During the past few months, while recuperating at the hospital, Mr. Bridge as part of his rehabilitation work has got his hand back in sketching by doing 90 portraits of the staff and patients at the hospital...During the war [WWII] he engaged in camouflage work in the AAF [Army Air Force] along similar lines he followed for the engineers in the previous war.”

Three years earlier, one of the Bridges’ sons, John Dwight Bridge Jr, (born 1920), had been killed in action while serving with the US Navy in the Mediterranean.

John Dwight Bridge Sr. died in Palm Beach FL on October 22, 1974.

***

Sources

Evelyn Burke, “‘Hobo Artist’ Paints Society Folk But He Doesn’t Like Money” in Pittsburgh Press, May 2, 1935.

“Capt. M.L. Marquette” in Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach FL), February 3, 1946.

Helen Clanton, “Hitch-Hiking as a Form of Service” in St. Louis Globe Democrat, January 13, 1936.

“Noted Artist Says Fighting Elements Provides More Thrills Than Many Sports” in Dayton Daily News (Dayton OH), April 15, 1936.

“St. Louisan in Camouflage Unit of US Army Home” In St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 15, 1919, p. 5.

“St. Louisan Who Paid Way Around World as Painter and Portrait He Made” in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 19, 1933.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Camouflage Artist | Stephen Jerome Hoxie

Above (and in additional photos below) USS Henderson, painted in a camouflage scheme designed by Stephen J. Hoxie (c1918).

•••

Stephen Jerome Hoxie (1895-1981) was born in Warwick RI in 1895. He studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design for two and a half years. He commonly signed his paintings as S. Jerome Hoxie. He is sometimes mistakenly cited as Stanley Jerome Hoxie.

He married Jessie Isabella Sanders about 1920. They had three children: Jean Maybell, Jerome Ward and Joseph Sanders. According to an online post by one of his descendants, he abandoned his wife and children “on an island off Martha’s Vineyard in 1926.” Somewhat later, he married again.


Earlier, during World War I, he had worked with the US Navy and the Emergency Shipping Board in the development of camouflage for merchant ships. There is a label on a lantern slide belonging to Everett L. Warner (who oversaw the artists at the Design Subsection of the Navy’s Camouflage Section) that states that Stephen Hoxie designed the camouflage for the USS Henderson. That he worked with Warner is also confirmed by a news article in The Evening Post Magazine (New York) in 1919, which lists Hoxie as one of the artists who assisted Warner.

In online notes about his life, it is commonly stated that “He did a study of color at the Eastman Kodak Research Laboratory.” If true, this may have taken place during the war, while he was a camoufleur. While the Design Subsection was in Washington DC, there was also a Research Subsection at the Eastman laboratory in Rochester NY (staffed mostly by physicists, not by artists). He may have researched color there.


After the war, during the Depression era, Hoxie was hired by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to make detailed colored gouache paintings (for the purpose of documentation) of examples of clay vessels and other craft artifacts, as part of a government project called the Index of American Design. He seems to have made around 82 of these, some of which are now housed in the archives of the National Gallery of Art, and can be accessed online. These are signed and dated, c1935-1936. Other works are said to be in the Mystic Seaport Museum.

Stephen J. Hoxie painting for Index of American Design (1936)

 
He illustrated at least two books: Jessie Weems Brown, Stonington Cooks and Cookery (Pequot Press, 1949), and History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island 1677-1960 (1960). He also designed a series of at least eight illustrated maps of various Connecticut counties, as published by the CT League of Women Voters in 1934 and 1935. A portion of his map for Hartford County was reproduced in the Hartford Daily Courant in 1935. The article notes that “S. Jerome Hoxie of Mystic did the pen and ink sketching and lettering, working first with a pencil under a microscope…”

Stephen J. Hoxie illustrated map (c1935) detail 

In 1966, a highway observation site on Interstate 95, near Mystic CT, was named in his honor and is now officially known as the Hoxie Scenic Overlook.

He died in Stonington CT in 1961.

“New Field for Camoufleurs” in The Evening Post Magazine (New York), May 24, 1919, p. 3.
 “Historic Highlights of State Recorded on Pleasing Maps” in Hartford Daily Courant (Hartford CT), May 26, 1935.
 “Hoxie Overlook” in Hartford Courant (Hartford CT), July 8, 1967.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Despoiled ship shape: only a seagull fouls a deck

Above World War I-era photograph of dock workers loading an unidentified dazzle-painted ship, c1918.

•••

CAMOUFLAGE in the Sydney Morning Herald (AU), Tuesday, August 19, 1941, p. 6ff.—

…There is a story of one naval officer who, when the painting of the decks of his ship was proposed, turned indignantly on the camoufleur, saying: "What, foul the teak of my decks! Only a seagull has the right to that, sir." 

•••

GLOOM DISPELLERS: Camouflage in Rockland County Times (Rockland County NY), April 6, 1918—

Officer Ford found a man clothed in pajamas promenading on Sharp Street at two o'clock the other morning.

On being accosted the man was startled, and then explained that he was a somnambulist.

"I don't care a #%## what your religion is," said the Chief, "you can't go around wearing them kind o' duds."

•••

STORIES OF INTEREST: A Cubist Puzzle in the Los Angeles Herald. November 12, 1917—

The wife of a well known cubist artist was returning from Spain to France. The customs officer opened her baggage and discovered a remarkable canvas. The picture appeared to represent a collection of old iron, which had been strongly colored. The officer gazed with astonishment, mingled with suspicion, at the work of art. "That's my portrait," said the lady coldly. "Never!" returned her examiner. "That must be the plan of a submarine or airplane." An engineer as expert was called. He looked at the masterpiece for a long time and turned it round and round. Finally, he said, "It is possibly a machine, but it will not explode." On this the lady was allowed to depart.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Achtung! Beware of another camouflaged dog!

Above This is the cover page of the inaugural issue of a German satirical magazine called Kladderadatsch. It was founded 1848 in Berlin by David Kalisch and Albert Hofmann. There is a story (true or not) that Kalisch and the magazine's staff were having dinner one evening, in part to reach an agreement about the name for the magazine.

During dinner, a dog knocked over a stack of plates, at the sound of which someone at the table said "Kladderadatsch!" which is the German sound for "Crash!" Kalisch loved it (one wonders if he was inspired by the French magazine Le Charivari, meaning "street noise" and/or The London Charivari) and decided to use that expression as the magazine's name.

In the top center of the cover is a drawing of a smiling boy (see below) by Wilhelm Scholz, in which, in tribute to the noisy dog, there is a drawing of the dog hidden (camouflaged, embedded) in the boy's cheek to the left of his nose. That same drawing continued to be on the cover for forty years.

Find the hidden dog
See also: Bevis Hillier, Cartoons and Caricatures. London: Studio Vista, 1970.