"Sampson Rock of Wall Street, Post Cover"   Lot no. 4722

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By Frederic R. Gruger (1871-1953)

13.5 x 11.5”
watercolor on paper mounted to board



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Cover of The Saturday Evening Post, October 13, 1906

Gruger illustrated only three post covers throughout his career. This was the second one completed. 

Explore related art collections: Black & White / Saturday Evening Post Covers / 1900s / $20,000 - $50,000

See all original artwork by Frederic R. Gruger



            Frederic Gruger wrote on the subject of Illustration for the Encyclopedia Britannica, describing the illustrator's role as follows:

            "...Illustration may become a great art, but to become a great art, it must be creative. It cannot hope to compete with the camera in the reporting of facts. It has no business with the outer shell of things at all. It deals with the spirit. Dealing with the psychological aspects is a great opportunity and a serious handicap. Presupposing a pictorial presentation of the relations of people, the telling of a story is inevitable. A great and simple story, a kin to truth, or a poor and trivial one, a kin to meagre facts, may be told about the same incident- depending upon the insight, the vision of the artist. The nature of the story portrayed is the measure of the artist who portrays it..."

            Gruger demonstrated this insight and vision in his work. His pictures were always concerned with the larger themes, and although the original drawings were actually quite small, they appear monumental in scale. In an era when color was limited, and expensive to reproduce. The majority of Gruger's illustrations were rendered in black and white.

            He worked in a medium developed out of his earlier reportorial work for the Philadelphia Ledger. The drawing was made with Wolff pencil, rubbed with a stump or eraser, often over an underlying wash. This combination produced a full range of values, particularly a rich, velvety black. The board he drew on was an inexpensive cardboard used by newspapers for mounting silver prints. It had a receptive, soft surface, and became known as "Gruger board" among the illustrators who adopted it.

            Gruger graduated to The Century magazine and worked subsequently for most other publishers and many advertisers, but was most closely identified through his 40-year-long career with The Saturday Evening Post. In 1981, he was elected into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.