John E. "Jack" Sheridan advertisement illustration for The Evening Post (1924): a beautifully framed antique


Advertisement: Hart Schaffner & Marx
    "Every Man Needs Good Clothes"
    By John E. "Jack" Sheridan
In The Saturday Evening Post
    April 19, 1924 Issue

    Image Size: H 15.00” x W 21.00”
    Matted & Framed: H 22.00” x W 27.00”
    Framed Price: $285.00 
    Packaging and shipping approximately $25.00


JES reportedly paid for the classes he took at Georgetown University by producing sports posters. It is not surprising therefore that the earliest surviving pieces of his work are posters for sports teams (all of which are for Ivy League schools). The New York Times went to far as to credit JES with originating "the idea of using posters to advertise college sports."

JES went to France, possibly in 1909, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. In its biographical sketch of the artist, The Saturday Evening Post  reports that “upon his return from Europe, Sheridan opened a studio in Manhattan at 27 West 67th Street.” Because the ad agency that handled Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company’s account, Calkins & Holden, was in the city, it seems that JES was in New York when he received his commission to produce this advertisement. The fact that Calkins & Holden hired only “prominent illustrators of the time” confirms that by 1911 when he did this Pierce-Arrow ad, JES had established himself. In addition to JES, artists who produced Pierce-Arrow’s ads during the 1910s included J. C. Leyendecker, Louis Fancher, Myron Perley, Adolph Treidler and N. C. Wyeth.    

JES probably connected with Hart Schaffner & Marx while working with Charles Dana Gibson’s artist legion in 1917 and 1918 as they made propaganda posters to build public support the war against Germany. Jack had met CDG a few years before the war. Both were members of the Society of Illustrators and both were ardent supporters of their country and enemies of German. When the war CDG was President of the Society of Illustrators and JES considered it an honor to work with him to promote “the war to make the world safe for democracy.”

While CDG directed his team of 300 artist admen in producing propaganda posters, HSM was doing its own patriotic duty, and making a fortune, by manufacturing uniforms for the US Army. Since its managing partner, Joseph Schaffner, was personally involved in designing the illustrated advertisements that appeared in HSM's catalogues, it would have been natural for him to notice that JES had a knack for illustrating Ivy Leaguers at sporting events.

More than a decade before the war started, Schaffner had upgraded HSM advertising program by transforming the firm’s catalogue into a theme-orient "stylebook." JES’s experience illustrating college sports events fit perfectly with Schaffner’s scheme for picturing HSM’s clothes at “entertains”  like football games and aviation meets.

During the war, JES produced were a couple event advertisements for HSM. One shows a trooper in uniform jumping his horse in a competition whose audience is crowded with swells in HSM suits and coats. After the war, JES became a regular contributor to HSM's twice-yearly stylebooks.

 Many of the illustrations JES produced for HSM were in full color. JES’s work was distinguishable from the pictures produced by the clothier’s art director, Samuel Nelson Abbott. Abbott’s training in old schools classicism was always evident in his work in the sense that Abbott used color and composition to create motion and emotional involvement between his characters and the viewers of his scenes. JES moved toward Abbott’s scene creation, but he remained a line man who used his characters as stage props to convey an impression to his viewers. We this in the snapshot ad that appeared in the 19 April 1924 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. The artist created no motion and no story. Just a pirate, a chick in a bandana, and a treasure chest to provide context for a few of HSM's finely tailored suits.

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