Walter Biggs

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Walter Biggs (1886-1968), Untitled [School teacher stands near seated male student, both look through window at children playing outside], no date. Gouache on board. GA 2006.02663

This untitled gouache by the American illustrator Walter Biggs was probably drawn as an illustration for Century magazine in the early 1900s during the years that he shared a studio with George Bellows but we have not yet been able to match it to a particular story. It’s not surprising since Biggs work for over fifty years as a successful commercial illustrator. This small section from Donald Gunter’s biography gives some idea of the amount of work the artist produced.

“Biggs began achieving commercial success in 1905, when his illustrations appeared on the covers of Young’s Magazine in January and Field and Stream in July. After completing his formal art studies he rented a small studio and worked on a variety of projects. His early assignments included illustrations for a story in the McClure’s Magazine of October 1908, a color frontispiece for Myrtle Reed’s novel Old Rose and Silver (1909), and drawings for Belle Bushnell’s John Arrowsmith—Planter (1910). In May 1912 he illustrated a story in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, launching a twelve-year relationship as a contributor to that magazine. In 1913 Biggs’s illustrations appeared in the January issue of the Delineator, in Kate Langley Bosher’s novel The House of Happiness, and in The Land of the Spirit, a collection of short stories by Thomas Nelson Page. He illustrated a series of stories by Armistead Churchill Gordon that appeared in Scribner’s from 1914 to 1916 and were also published as Ommirandy: Plantation Life at Kingsmill (1917). In 1918 he illustrated a story by Alice Hegan Rice for the Century. Many of those illustrations were set in the American South, and Biggs won praise during his career for his sympathetic portrayals of African American life.” From “Walter J. Biggs (1886–1968)” by Donald W. Gunter and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography

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