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AUTO HISTORY

Motor Illustrator: Laurence Herndon

September 1920 cover. A summer farm scene shows us a young woman who has driven a farm truck to the pasture where she tilts a tin pail to let a calf drink milk from it.

September 1920 cover. A summer farm scene shows us a young woman who has driven a farm truck to the pasture where she tilts a tin pail to let a calf drink milk from it.


Lawrence Jesse Herndon (December 25, 1880 — November 12, 1961) was born in Carey, Ohio. His parents ran a grocery store in Galion, Ohio. When Lawrence was 20, he had finished high school and his father had died, so his mom and he ran the store together. He left home, though, two years later, to study at Chicago's Art Institute. Eventually he taught there, as well. In 1908, after failing to support himself as an artist, he went back home to the grocery store. That didn't seem to be his career of choice, however, so after marrying in 1910, he and his wife Mary Louise Curtis moved to New York City to look for work. Using his apartment as his studio, he sold illustrations to magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Everybody's. In later years (about 1918 to 1938), he'd go on to illustrate The Argosy, The Red Book, Pictorial Review, Munsey's, The Blue Book, Boys' Life, Outdoor Stories, The Popular Magazine, The Green Book, Street and Smith's Wild West Weekly, Over the Top, Top-Notch, and others. His best-known work was cover illustration for inexpensive, action-oriented, pulp magazines, and within that, his drawings for Tarzan stories. Some of the magazine covers would reappear in book form for titles such as Peter the Brazen, The Land That Time Forgot, The Adventures of Jehannum Smith, A Fighting Man of Mars, etc.

A year after his arrival in New York, Laurence was doing well enough to invite his mother to come live with him in North Bergen, New Jersey. She sold the store and came east. By 1920, he had joined the Guild of Free Lance Artists. And in 1934, the artist started teaching illustration at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. Ten years later, the school was renamed The New York Phoenix School of Design, and Laurence would continue teaching there until 1961.

Because most of his paintings were destroyed in a studio fire in the 1950s, examples of his work are rare. Herndon died at the age of 80.

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