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The Religious Affiliation of Painter
Harry Anderson


Harry Anderson is regarded as one of the greatest and most popular artists in modern history.

From: "Harry Anderson" biography page on "Illustrator Biographies" website (http://www.bpib.com/illustrat/anderson.htm; viewed 5 December 2005):

Harry Anderson's story is as unique as his ability. Born in 1906 in Chicago, he was going to be a mathematician. He started college at the University of Illinois in 1925. He took an art course as an easy counterpoint to the math classes and discovered both a talent and a love for drawing. From such simple choices our lives are made...

He married Ruth around 1940. She worked in the same building as Harry and posed for him on one occasion...

He and Ruth joined the Seventh Day Adventist church and in 1944 Harry was asked if he would contribute to their publishing efforts. Harry generously said yes and the next year his most famous image was crafted. "What Happened to Your Hand?" (at right) was done for a children's book in 1945 and immediately touched the hearts of that audience. The adults in charge of the publishing program were less enthusiastic; some even considering it near-blasphemous to show Christ in the present day. Cooler heads prevailed and Anderson spent the rest of his active career splitting his efforts between commercial assignments at his premium wages and religious ones done for love and for scale.

His art director at Review and Herald Publishing was T.K. Martin and it was his vision of Christ as a tangible presence in modern times that was shared and executed over and over again by Anderson. The inner peace that allowed Anderson to make his choice to contribute his time and effort at virtually minimum wage was evident in his paintings and in his depiction of Jesus.

Actually, that's unfair to Harry. That dedication and calm is present in all of his work. As an important and popular illustrator, he's almost unique in the gentleness of his images... In 1994 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame...

In the mid-Sixties, he expanded his religious horizons to include the Mormon Church [the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], for whom he created a mural for the 1964 New York World's Fair. It was done in oil paints which he'd abandoned early is his career due to allergies to turpentine. New thinner products allowed him to explore the medium again. He produced a dozen more oil paintings for the Mormons, many of which have been reproduced in one of their publications entitled the Family Home Evening...

He died in 1996 at the age of 90, the last of a generation of illustrators from The Golden Age of magazine illustration. It's almost certain that he was one of the last active members of that group. His work is still being circulated, and appreciated, today, in publications like Your Bible and You and The Desire of Ages.


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Webpage created 5 December 2005. Last modified 5 December 2005.
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