CHRISTY, Howard Chandler (1873 – 1952)
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.
ALS – Autograph Letter Signed, one page, 16 June 1945. Makes reference to his art prints. Usual folds and some generalized toning but, overall, in very good condition. It was in this year that Christy painted The Signing of the Treaty of Greene Ville (now in the Ohio State House).
Christy was born on a farm in Morgan Township. Ohio. He first gained notice as an illustrator during the Spanish – American War, but achieved lasting fame for his trademark “Christy Girls,” dream girls who idealized feminine beauty during this era. Between 1908 and 1915, he worked from a studio perched above the Muskingum River near Duncan Falls. In the 1920s Christy began to paint portraits and historical scenes. The Signing of the Constitution of the United States, displayed in the Capitol, is his most famous work.
When the United States became involved in World War I, Christy felt the need to move back to New York. In 1917 he became the first tenant of the Hotel des Artistes on West Sixty-Seventh Street, where he lived and worked in a two-story studio until his death. As World War I developed, Christy became increasingly involved in war efforts. He donated forty six paintings to be reproduced as posters for recruitment, bond sales, victory loans, and service organizations. These posters featured various incarnations of the Christy Girl, from altruistic angels, ghosts, and nurses to female representations of “Liberty” and “Justice.” Christy’s patriotic feelings ran strong, and he donated both his talents and time for the cause. He reportedly helped sell 7.4 million dollars’ worth of war bonds in 3 hours.
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’s later career is also notable for his major historical paintings. These large-scale mural commissions include such works as: “We the People” (1937), “The Signing of the Constitution of the United States” (1940), “The Stephen Foster Memorials” (1940; 1947-50), “The Signing of the Treaty of Greene Ville” (1945), “The Signing of the United Nations’ Charter” (1946-47), and “Dawn of a New Light [Thomas Alva Edison]” (1950). Later religious canvases include titles such as “Giving the Great Commission,” “Jesus the Christ,” and “Peace on Earth.” He died in 1952.