"Mining for Ore, Saturday Evening Post Cover, 1947"   Lot no. 4069

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By John Atherton (1900-1952)

Oil Painting
Signed Lower Left



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Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, November 22, 1947


The Post wrote the following commentary on the cover artwork: "This is another of our regional covers, and citizens of the Northwest will recognize the locale at once as the Mesabi Range, one of the wonders of the world and one of the greatest strokes of luck a nation ever enjoyed. Here in Northern Minnesota are the mountains of iron from which so much of this country's greatness has been built, the largest deposit of high-grade iron ore ever discovered. Once it held 2,400,000,000 tons of ore so good that it can be scooped out and sent to the smelter without processing. The huge pit they have dug from this range seemed to Artist John Atherton's awed eyes 'bigger than the Grand Canyon.' There is another significance, however: it is also a great hole in our natural resources, one that can't easily be filled." (The Saturday Evening Post, November 22, 1947, p. 3)

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See all original artwork by John Atherton


   For John Atherton there was no line drawn between “fine” and “commercial” art. He painted pictures for advertisers, magazine covers, and galleries alike, all characterized by his strong sense of design, color and good taste.

   Atherton was born in Brainerd, Minnesota, and he studied at the College of the Pacific, and the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He first worked in a number of West Coast art studios learning the basics of his craft. When he won a $500 first prize award in the annual exhibit of the Bohemian Club in 1929, it financed his move to New York.

    There he began to do advertisements for General Motors, the Container Corporation of America, and Shell Oil, as well as covers for Fortune, Holiday, and The Saturday Evening Post.

    His first one-man show was held in Manhattan in 1936; in the “Artists for Victory” show in 1943, his painting, The Black Horse, won the $3,000 fourth prize from among 14,000 entries. It is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His work is also represented at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Art Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

   Atherton’s great avocation was fishing. He tied flies of original design expertly, was a member of the Angler’s Club and author of a book, The Fly and the Fish. His death occurred while he was on a salmon fishing trip in New Brunswick, Canada.