Friday, October 16, 2015

Society of Illustrators

One of the great places to visit in New York is the Society of Illustrators. The Society was founded over a century ago to promote the "art of illustration" as they put it, and to hold exhibitions. And they've done so for the entire history of the organization. Further, the Society has always had renowned artists as members. During its early history, the club counted Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parish, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, Frederic Remington, James Montgomery Flagg as attendee at monthly dinners. And our old friend Mark Twain (a founder of The Players) figures in some of those early events at the Society as well.

"Dover Coach," Norman Rockwell, 1935
An interesting side note is that during  World War I years, Society members worked with the government to produce original poster designs, one of which was the famous James M. Flagg recruiting poster of Uncle Sam. Several members also received commissions and were sent to France to sketch the war.

Today its venerable club building on 63rd houses the Museum of American Illustration, society offices, a wonderful dining facility and gallery spaces.

A few years ago we visited the Society for lunch. The Salmagundi Club and the Society are reciprocal organizations that welcome one another's visits, so Pat and I and our friend Beth Kurtz dropped in for lunch. What a treat! The food was good but the art was better. The dining room is known as the Hall of Fame Gallery and has quite a few pieces by the well-known and famous selected from the Society's permanent collection. Norman Rockwell's Christmas painting, "The Dover Coach," has pride of place over the bar in the dining room, but there are works by many others in the halls and stairwells. After a sumptuous lunch, we spent an delightful hour studying as many of them as we could.

Society of Illustrators
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