November 1916 cover. An older, mustachioed rural mail delivery man, dressed in a pink shirt and open black vest, hands a letter to a young woman dressed in a blue gingham jumper. She holds a package ready to be posted.
Illustrator/portraitist/muralist David Chapel Hutchison (August 19, 1869 — June 12, 1954) was born in Arbroath, Scotland and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art. In 1890, he immigrated to Hamilton, Ontario. From 1891-1898, he studied with J.P. Laurens (painter and sculptor working with historical and religious themes) in Paris. His relocation to New York City occurred in October 1901, and he began a career in art in 1906, working as a commercial draftsman. His illustrations showed up in a whole array of magazines: Argosy, Liberty, The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Harper's Weekly, Success, McClure's, Metropolitan Magazine, and many others. From 1906 to 1920, he also illustrated a whole range of books, mostly histories, Westerns, and adventures, with such titles as these: The Eyes of the Woods; Lonesome Trail; Snowy Rescue; Running Fox; The Vision Splendid; The Happy Family; A Daughter of the Dons; The Pirate of Panama; Crooked Trails and Straight; The Keepers of the Trail; A Virginia Scout; Rulers of the Surf; Flying U Ranch; The Land of Frozen Suns; Gleam o' Dawn; Hands Off!; White Otter; The Rifleman of the Ohio; and Hiram Golf's Religion.
In 1910, he applied for U.S. citizenship, with George "Elbows" McFadden, lightweight boxer and gym owner, endorsing his application for citizenship. Hutchison would learn from McFadden and would go on to author and illustrate a 1913 book on the fundamentals of boxing, simply titled Boxing.
By 1927, he had turned to painting on canvas and produced a good many portraits. His artistic reinvention continued as he began mural painting in 1933. That proved to be a wise move for him during the years of the Great Depression. Working on a series of murals for the Children's Room at the Yonkers Public Library (depicting the Ages of Chivalry, Discovery, and Invention), he earned $34 a week — until funding ran out. Hutchison, nonetheless, completed the work, which opened to the public in November 1935. Also during the Depression, the U.S. Treasury Department, through its Section of Fine Arts, awarded public works commissions to artists, based on their design submissions. Hutchison painted murals of local historical figures at the New York Carnegie Library in Yonkers, New York (1934-1936); the Jesup, Georgia Post Office (1938); and the New Rochelle Post Office (1940).
Saving what money he could, in 1936, he bought a small chicken farm near his daughter, in Brookfield, Connecticut, turning it into an artists' colony. In the late forties, he kept his hand in mural painting by painting murals on the exterior walls of his Connecticut home. There was a last large mural, as well, a religious one, "There is a Lad Here" (story of the miracle of loaves and fishes) painted for the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee in 1950.
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