December 1904 cover. The Christmas cover is a snowy winter scene with a well-dressed couple gathering pine branches and holly into their open car.
Paul John Bransom (July 26, 1885 — July 1979), while primarily known as a wildlife illustrator, was an illustrator, cartoonist, and painter. Born in Washington, D.C., he developed an early love of animals, sketching them around his neighborhood and at the National Zoo. He left school at age 13 to become an apprentice draftsman assisting with mechanical drawings for the U.S. Patent Office. That work primed him for successive jobs at the Southern Railroad Co. and General Electric where he produced technical drawings.
In 1903, the then 17-year old Bransom moved to New York and began work on the New York Evening Journal (1904-1907), drawing the cartoon strip, "The Latest News from Bugville" and other cartoons. Also during that time he was penning cartoons for MoToR and doing freelance work for the New International Encyclopedia. In the course of that work, he struck up friendships with, and learned from, other cartoonists, men like Gus Dirks ("Katzenjammer Kids"), T.S. Sullivant, Charles Sarka, Walt Kuhn, and others.
True to his early love of animals, he sketched so often at the New York Zoological Park that the director let him use a room near the lion house as his studio. He broke into the big time when Saturday Evening Post bought several of his drawings to grace the magazine's cover about 1906. He would go on to do illustrations for Country Gentleman, McClure's, Harper's, Good Housekeeping, The Illustrated Sunday Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, and many other publications. His book work began about 1912 with Call of the Wild and soon included The Wind in the Willows, Just So Stories, and many, many others. It was also about this time that he extended his illustrations into advertising.
In 1917, he and his wife built a home and studio in the Adirondacks and split their time between that home and one in New York City. His first solo exhibition was held at Arden Gallery in New York, one of nearly twenty such exhibitions for him. In 1949, the Bransoms purchased a summer home near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the artist welcomed friends and taught outdoor art classes for Teton Artists, Associated, until ill health sent him back East in 1962.
A member of the American Watercolor Society, the American Artists' Professional League, the Salmagundi Club, the Dutch Treat Club, and the Boone and Crockett Club, he remained active to old age, dying at 94 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.