Motor Illustrator: Penrhyn Stanlaws
August 1904 Cover. Utilizing a dark green background with a lighter green art nouveau bottom border, the inset shows the profile of a pretty young girl attired in an orange motoring coat whose gloved hands grip the steering wheel as she passes by figures on the street, a child with a hoop and women dressed in frills, one woman holding a parasol.
Artist, illustrator, playwright, portraitist, and film director Penrhyn Stanlaws (March 19, 1877- May 20, 1957) was born in Dundee Scotland, as Arthur Earnest Penrhyn Stanley Adamson. Since his older brother Sydney was also an illustrator, Stanley decided to overcome confusion from the same last name and adopt an entirely different name.
Stanlaws first came to the U.S. in the early 1890s and, by 1893, was a staff member at The Chicago Record, a position he held for several years. From 1894-1896, he returned to the Continent, serving as assistant to English writer and humorist Jerome K. Jerome and contributing illustrations to various English magazines. In 1896, he came back to the States and sold illustrations to Life, Harper's, Scribner's and Judge, among others.
He really wanted to go to college, though, and due to the kindness of cartoonist Grant Hamilton, a major force on the Judge magazine staff, he was enabled to do so. In 1901, with the promise of steady work, Stanlaws entered Princeton for a two-year course in English. While there, he drew for other publications, as well, and introduced the "Stanlaws Girl", rivaling the Gibson girl so popular in the 1890s. In the last issue of Hearst's International for which Stanlaws drew the cover (November 1921), in a prefatory column called "Over the Editor's Shoulder", the editor praised the Stanlaws girl "with her spiritual, saintly face, her dreamy eyes, wistful mouth, and innocent expression". Stanlaws also used his Princeton training to good effect when he wrote a book about his experiences there, College Girls (1901).
After Princeton, he studied art in Paris and, in 1903, returning to London, became a playwright even as he continued his illustration work. He did commercial art for several advertising campaigns, drew for English publications, produced sophisticated portraits, illustrated a number of books, and drew several cartoon strips for American newspapers. In 1913, he returned to New York and married. Throughout the teens and twenties, Stanlaws 's illustrations were ubiquitous, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post , The American Magazine, Collier's , Life, Judge, The Metropolitan Magazine and Hearst's International. He also helped organize a syndicate that built an apartment building for artists, the Hotel des Artistes, completed in 1917 and still standing on 67th Street in Manhattan.
In the early twenties, Stanlaws took another tack, moving to Los Angeles to direct films, still presenting idealized, beautiful young women. After the release of his seventh film however, he poisoned his relationship with Hollywood by writing an eight-page screed for Screenland magazine (January 1923), "What's the Matter with Our Hollywood Women?" He ranted about a number of popular actresses, saying one's legs were too short, another's head was misshapen, while yet another had big nostrils, etc.
By 1930, he was again in New York working as an artist and illustrator. In 1937, he was teaching classes in magazine design and portraiture. The year following he was on the teaching staff at the commercial Illustration School, located in the Flatiron building. Returning to Los Angeles about 1943, he became better known as a portrait painter. There, in 1957, likely the result of having fallen asleep while smoking, Stanlaws died in a house fire.
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