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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

The American Farming Tradition

Monday, March 06, 2006


Farming motifs were very popular in magazines in the years after WWII. There are three illustrations in the July 19, 1947 issue of Saturday Evening Post of dairy farming alone.

I expect that's because rural and small-town America made up a very large percentage of magazine readers in those days. In his excellent article on Bernie Fuchs in the current issue of Illustration, author David Apatoff provides us with this anecdote about the illustrator Robert Fawcett:

'...Fawcett used to scold his fellow illustrators about their responsibility to audiences in small towns across the country, asserting "we represent the only view of art and beauty that millions of people get to see."'

Clearly, the editors and publishers understood that point - as did their advertisers.
From covers like this one by John Atherton, to ads for sparkplugs, the idealized American farming tradition was regularly and well represented. This week we'll take a look at how illustrators of the day interpreted that heritage.

1 comment

  1. Mark Harris10:26 AM

    Good topic Leif.
    That's a great quote by Fawcett. I'm one of those people who grew up in a small town/rural area and can identify very much with that statement.
    It may seem different now with the internet, yet many young people still influenced on what is presented to them as opposed to going out & looking for it.
    I'm presently reading John Grisham's book 'A Painted House' about growing up in rural Arkansas in the post-war period. I love the way it's written, as it's so easy to picture in your mind the setting.

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