Harold Von Schmidt1893 - 1982
Born: 1893, Alameda, California
Died: 1982, Westport, Connecticut
As a native Californian, the West played a large role in the paintings and illustrations of Harold Von Schmidt. After being orphaned at age five, he was raised by his grandfather and aunt, both of whom were supportive of his artistic talents. He studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute and worked as a studio assistant to Maynard Dixon for three years. At this time, he began his illustration career, providing designs for Sunset magazine and designing posters for the Navy during World War I.
In 1924, Von Schmidt moved East to study under Harvey Dunn, who encouraged the young artist to paint the epic rather than the incident. Throughout the remainder of his career, he illustrated for numerous publications, including the Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, and Cosmopolitan, and his most famous book illustration was for Death Comes for the Archbishop. He served as an artist-correspondent during World War II in Europe and the Pacific.
Twelve of Von Schmidt's paintings depicting westward expansion and the 1849 Gold Rush hang in the California Governor's office, and West Point owns five of his Civil War paintings. The artist's many accomplishments include becoming a life trustee of the Artists Guild in New York, serving as president of the Society of Illustrators for four years, participating in the American Indian Defense Association, serving as president of the Westport Artists for two years, and helping to found the Famous Artists Schools in Westport. Von Schmidt was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1959, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame awarded him their first Gold Medal in 1968. In 1960, the United States Post Office commissioned him to design a stamp to commemorate the Pony Express.