Wednesday, July 16, 2014


 Images from 

The strong man 

Born in White Plains, New York, Howitt was struck with a case of polio at age four. During his time of recovery and convalescing, his father drew pictures for the boy and encouraging him to draw also. As he got older and his affliction limited his other physical activies, drawing became a passion for “Newton,” and he devoted more serious attention to it. 
The young Howitt was quite studious and graduated from high school at age sixteen. He then enrolled at the Art Students league in New York City where he studied under noted the noted instructor George Bridgeman. Howitt embarked upon a career in illustration, and from 1910-1930 he led an extensive commercial career with paintings appearing in the magazines Pictoral Review, Liberty, The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and Delineator, all of which were extremely high profile publications of the day. In addition he illustrated several books as well as stories for the newspaper supplemental sections, This Week, New York Herald Tribune, and the American Sunday Monthly Magazine. 

Road to the village 

During the 1920s Howitt was commisioned to create advertising work for several nation-wide companies that included Jello Foods, Post Bran Flakes, Devoe Paints, Vermont Marble and Crisco Shortening. In between commercial assignments, Howitt always devoted his time to painting landscapes. He traveled extensively in North America, painting everywhere he went. He established a solid reputation as a landscape painter of high quality and he exhibited his works regulary in prominent galleries. To this day his landscapes hang in noted museuems and public collections across the country. 

The Spider July-1935 

 The Spider October-1937 

The Scorpion 
All images from 

As the depths of the Depression struck, Howitt apparently found himself on shaky ground financially. Unable to earn a living from his past markets, he turned to the pulps as a means to make a living. Howitt had reached middle-age and was much older than many of his contemporary pulp artists just beginning a career. The forty-eight year old Howitt could have considered the pulps nothing but a step down from the level of succes he had achieved. According to Mrs. Shirley Steeger, wife of Harry Steeger who knew Howitt well, he “deplored the work — but it was meticulously done.” 

 Football Player 

 Woman on a Bike 

 Sleeping Baker 
Images from 

SEP Cover, Sleeping Baker 

According to the artist,"Too much emphasis is put on art fashions of the moment and there is not enough recognition of good painting. We who are not "modernists" have found that we get no recognition today in art circles unless our work is clothed in the style that is considered fashionable. It does not matter how well or how forcibly we express it; we get no attention from critics or museums or even the large exhibitions. Museum collections of American paintings will never be important as long as they only follow the latest fad in art.
Painting should have a more solid basis than fashion. As long as it is not possible for an artist to paint for mass production and do good work, many painters today are quite willing to adapt their prices to the buyer's pocketbook. We artists are ready to meet the private buyer half-way. We believe that no painting stacked against the wall is fulfilling its function. We must sell to continue painting and unless we can continue, art will die, because painting is not a part-time job." 
 (David Saunders 2009 at 

Patriotic Employment Poster WWII 1944 
 WWII Patriotic Posters Civilian Jobs 

Because of the men severing in the military and the nation's industries increased wartime production efforts, there was a critical shortage of labor. Consequently, women were hired in increasing numbers and their participation in the job market increased extremely. During this push for greater production, the employment of women in America rose from about twelve million to more than eighteen million. 
By the end of World War Two, women made up about 35 percent of the labor force. The type of people presented on posters such as these were not haphazardly created. The selection of an "average Joe" to personify American male workers was selected to gain the "common man's" allegiance to production goals and approving use of women for the workforce. 
The average working woman on the other hand was idealized as a fashion model in denim; this carefully glamorized image was intended to convince women that they would not have to sacrifice their femininity by taking a traditionally "man's job" for war support work.
Second World War American patriotic posters like "I'm Proud, my husband wants me to do my part." helped unite Americans and mobilize the private and industrial sectors; U.S. citizens of every age, gender, and walk of life did their part to support the war effort, allied military and defeat the axis powers. U.S. citizens hoped that the Axis powers could be stopped without American military support and hoped America could avoid direct involvement in World War 2 but that all changed the morning of December 7 when Japan blindsided the U.S. military with bombs in the attack of Pearl Harbor Hawaii and other U.S. military outposts. The military might of the United States of America of course responded with a powerful vengeance but leaders knew that troops could not win the war alone. The American citizens rallied for the troops and swift mobilization of American citizenry and industry during World War II was an achievement without precedent in speed, scale, complexity and duration.
Howitt disappeared from the pulp field following the September 1939 issue of The Spider and the September/October 1939 issue of Operator 5. Howitt had moved back to the “slick” magazines exclusively, along with his advertising art; he also painted wartime posters for the Red Cross. 
He continued, as he started, painting commercial and fine art—obsessively, every day—until his death in 1958 at the age of 72, even winning awards in later years for his landscapes. It is believed that Howitt ultimately looked down on his career in the pulps despite the effort he put into it. His wife, Bertha (1880-1975), definitely did, preferring her husband to be remembered as a fine artist and teacher. There are very few known existing original pulp paintings by Howitt, and this appears to be intentional on the part of the artist or his widow. 
 (2010 Age of Aces Books)

No comments: