[Woman Driving Carriage]; Cover illustration of The Saturday Evening Post
(March 14, 1903)
Edward Penfield (1866-1925); An Auto-Maniac; Cover illustration of The Saturday Evening Post (September 5, 1903)
Later that same year another SEP cover by Edward Penfield illustrated a Gibson-like woman wearing a formal riding white shirt with a similar white stock and horseshoe pin we saw on Peter Fountain’s October 1902 SEP cover. But Penfield’s woman has the sleeves of her shirt casually pushed up above her elbows. She wears a driving glove on her left hand and hold the other glove in her right hand.
These illustrations are visual evidence of the growing perception of the shifting roles of women around the turn-of-the-century. While I’ve already written about women’s growing insistence on driving their own carriages (see “Women With Drive” https://www.rockwell-center.org/exploring-illustration/women-with-drive/), I believe that the increasing number of illustrations of energetic women engaged in sports are indeed related.
One of the aspects of this shift is rarely seen or addressed in concurrent fine art. That is the insistence of art historians to continue to expound on women’s images being tied to the domestic sphere well into the early 20th century. While that may indeed mostly be the case in fine art, illustration art provides us with a more realistic view of middle and upper class women’s lives at the time. In order to really see an overview of how women lived and played in the United States from 1890 through 1910 we would need to look at illustrations of those who were poor, those who were working class (like shop girls or women who worked in mills etc.), the women of the middle class, women of the upper class. The plethora of illustrations of women at this time, from posing beauties to women active in the thick of things, helps to broaden our understanding of what was possible for women in the new century.
Walter Appleton Clark (1876-1906); Close Hauled; Cover illustration for Collier’s The National Weekly (June 8, 1907)
* One of the reasons I hesitated to write about these images for so long, was because I could find nothing about an illustrator named Peter Fountain. Recently I was lucky to stumble on an unusual fact about Guernsey Moore (1874-1925) and J. J. Gould (1880-1935)—two illustrators who collaborated and created an imaginary illustrator they called, “Peter Fountain.”
These two designers, both Philadelphians, worked together for some time under the name of “Peter Fountain,” a fictitious personage who aroused attention for reason of the very interesting quality of his work, which appeared on the covers of “The Saturday Evening Post,” and by his disappearance from the field in a mysterious manner, no less sudden or unheralded that his début. While much work was done jointly by Messrs. Gould and Moore, much was presented either anonymously or with a combined monogram of “J.J.G.,” and “G. M.,” and the four sketches here presented constitute the only work over the “Peter Fountain” signature.
Charles Matlack Price, Posters: a critical study of the development of poster design in continental Europe, England and America (New York: George W. Bricka, 1913): 330, 341.
July 31, 2014
By Joyce K. Schiller, Curator, Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, Norman Rockwell Museum