Henry Soulen (1888-1965)
I purchased the above magazine illustration done in the 1920’s by Henry Soulen, a “Golden Age” illustrator about two years ago at an estate sale. The illustration was done in oil and I was concerned about the frame which had glass pressed against the oil paint. I took it to a local gallery, Lafontsee Gallery, to have the glass removed. I browsed the gallery while the owner took the artwork to the fame shop in the basement. She came back upstairs smiling and said I was not going to believe what was on the back side of the painting. (It was covered/hidden by brown paper, standard framing practice.) She turned the art board over and showed me this.
All of the gallery workers gathered around to check it out. They loved the oil painting but were equally amazed at study on the back. Later, I did a search of archived magazines because it looked familiar and found it was a study for the cover of the Ladies Home Journal magazine, April 1922.
I am still trying to find out where the oil painting, Girl with Victrola, was published, along with a second illustration Henry did for that project, which I was fortunate to acquire from the Soulen estate. The estate added two studies Henry did for the second illustration, one of the man, a line drawing, and one of the girl done in watercolor. Here’s the watercolor which is spectacular on it’s own.
Here’s the second oil illustration featuring the girl in the watercolor study.
The studies Henry Soulen did for his final illustrations confirm just how dedicated he was to doing great work. American illustration, in particular “Golden Age” illustration, is finally getting recognition as great fine art. The man was a serious impressionist.