George Hand Wright, N.A. (member of the National Academy) was an extremely prolific illustrator, watercolor painter and printmaker with a long lifetime of work and achievement, but not much seems to have been documented about his personal life beyond the fact that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1872 or 1973 and died in Westport CT in 1951, where he had been one of the founders of that community of illustrators who worked for publications in New York City. Walt Reed mentions him in his excellent work, "The Illustrator in America 1900-1960s." He says that Wright was the son of a blacksmith; that he worked for magazines such as Century, Scribner's, Harper's, and The Saturday Evening Post, among others. Reed tells us that Wright was famous for his detailed sketches, from which he later made his illustrations. I've included some of them here. They were done for Harper's Monthly Magazine in 1918 when the United States was training its troops to fight in France alongside its British and French allies. I'll be posting more work by this prodigious illustrator and have selected this batch to coincide with the Independence Day holiday being celebrated this weekend. Click on images to enlarge them.
This is the title page of a lead article in which both author and illustrator described the wartime scene in the nation's capitol after troops had been mobilized by enlistments and conscription and the city appeared to be bursting at its seams.
Here Wright manages to convey a scene with more life than any photo would be able to capture. Consider how dated photographs of that era appear in comparison to the pretty young woman accompanying the sailor.
A full page of work from his sketchbook.
An illustrated article in Harper's Monthly Magazine for August 1918. Cantonments refers to training camps, most of them hastily
constructed to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding army.
A corporal reports to his commanding officer in this illustration while company clerks toil in the background and an officer approaches with more paperwork. Except for the tight collar uniforms and Smokey the Bear hats, it depicts a familiar scene on any army post at any time since then. This illustration ran across two pages and unfortunately the inking was not the same on both sheets. It was titled, "A
Friendly Invasion of the Sunny South," where this horse cavalry was in training.
"The Grim Visage of War Has Many Aspects" is the last page of the article. It looks to be infantry bayonet training, gas mask drill, and the firing of automatic weapons under the command of a nattily attired instructor.