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Established June 2, 1997
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March 16, 1998

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Henry Soulen, Artist (1888 - 1965)

Biographical Data

Born March 12, 1888, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died October 22, 1965, Charlestown, Pa.
Studied at Milwaukee Art Institute; Chicago Art Institute (1909-1910); studied two years under Howard Pyle, Wilmington, Delaware (1910-1911)
Married Gertrude A. Biesel, October 27, 1911, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Children:  Six
Lived in Charlestown Village, Pa. from 1917 until death. Worked for Curtis Publishing Company from 1911-1940's; National Geographic, Washington, D.C. from 1957-1960.
During his active career (1911-1960) he created approximately 2,000 paintings which appeared as covers and illustrations in The Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies Home Journal, Delineator, Country Gentleman, National Geographic Magazine and other magazines in major advertising accounts, as well as early twentieth century books and novels.
Exhibits: Grand Central Galleries, New York; Philadelphia Art Museum; Chicago Art Institute; Milwaukee Museum; Asbury Park Society of Fine Arts. Among awards, won popular poll with "Winter Scene" at Art in Advertising Exhibition (Philadelphia Museum of Art) in 1941.
In later years, taught occasional classes, specialized courses, at the University of Maryland. Throughout World War II and post-war years instructed wounded military in art classes at Valley Forge Army Hospital and U.S.O. in Phoenixville. Painted a mural "We Shall Triumph" for the Army Hospital. Upon closing of hospital, mural was presented to Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge.
His work appeared simultaneously with that of N. C. Wyeth and later with that of Norman Rockwell[1], ranging wide in motif, including much of early twentieth century genre art, later interspersed heavily with religious, mid-Asian and Chinese subjects.
Many of his finer illustrations appeared as Christmas issue covers in The Ladies Home Journal[2] and The Country Gentleman, and in earlier years in The Saturday Evening Post. His Post illustrations alone, according to recent count, appeared in 153 issued from 1912 through 1938, more often than not including two, three and more illustrations in one issue. In his retiring years he did two series of biblical illustrations for two December issues of National Geographic Magazine, 1957 and 1960.
Listed in Who's Who of American Art and in American Illustrators of the Twentieth Century.
[1] A good reference is the December 1926 issue of The Ladies Home Journal which contains Rockwell's classic, "The Love Song", on page 15; on pages 10 and 11 appear the beginning paintings in a series of many Palestine paintings by Henry J. Soulen illustrating the serialized version of Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick's book, "A Pilgrimage to Palestine"; on page 32 are photos of Soulen and Dr. Fosdick and excerpts from a letter written by Soulen to the Journal during their sojourn in Palestine and Egypt, on camel back, then in progress.
[2] "Madonna and Child", December 1922, referred to in Curtis Publishing Company literature as "the greatest magazine cover ever painted" (copy attached).
"Madonna and Angels", January 1938, now hanging at Charlestown Methodist Church.
(Above courtesy of Henry Soulen's daughter Elizabeth O'Connor.)

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