Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art

St. Joseph, Missouri

(816) 233-7003


John Falter, Illustrator


Called "America's most gifted illustrator" by artist Norman Rockwell, John Philip Falter never gained the fame that Rockwell did, even though he produced more Saturday Evening Post covers than any illustrator except Rockwell. But then, Falter was only six when Rockwell began a six decade career with the magazine in 1916. Falter's relationship with the Saturday Evening Post covered two decades after his first cover in 1943 of Benjamin Franklin.

Falter's favorite Post cover was a Christmas scene looking down on Falls City's Main Street. He loved painting images of his hometown, but because he left there in 1928, he had to draw upon memory to create scenes. His panoramic views were a departure from the Post's usual close-up looks. Even Rockwell changed to his style for a time. He called it his "Falter Period"

Other magazines donned the work of Falter as well. Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, Life and Look, as well as advertising illustrations for companies including Gulf Oil, Arrow Shirts and Pall Mall all displayed the work of John Falter. He designed more than 300 World War II recruiting posters while on active duty as a lieutenant with the Naval Reserve. Also at that time, he finished a series for Esquire magazine depicting 12 famous war heroes.

He also became a portrait painter and had as famous subjects Clark Gable, Adm. William "Bull" Halsey, Olivia de Haviland, and James Cagney. Playing both saxophone and clarinet, Falter had a lifelong passion for jazz, which was evident in his later work.

John Falter died in 1982, but his work lives on. A small retrospective of his work is currently on exhibit at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri. Forty pieces illustrate not only the small town side of this famous illustrator, but also the magazine covers that all ages can relate to. John Falter's works are on display through September 3, 2000. (All images above are of the art of John Falter and are courtesy of Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art)

Read more about the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/18/11

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