DescriptionHOWARD CHANDLER CHRISTY (American 1873-1952)
Portrait of Frankie Witherspoon
Oil on canvas
31.25in. x 24.5in.
Signed lower right: Howard Chandler Christy
Provenance: from the artist to Mr. Ambrose Witherspoon, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; gifted to his wife Frankie Lillard Witherspoon
Frankie Lillard's family owned Bond Lillard Distillery, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, which later became National Distillery, whose descendants now own Brown Williamson Tobacco & Distilleries, Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Ambrose Witherspoon, was a physician who started Anderson National Bank in Lawrenceburg.
Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Witherspoon visited New York often where they met and befriended Howard Chandler Christy at the Café des Artists. The present painting was a Christmas gift from Mr. Witherspoon to his wife Frankie.
Christy enlisted to help cover the Spanish-American War. He accompanied the Rough Riders into battle to make illustrations for articles published in Scribner's, Harpers, Century, and Leslie's Weekly. In the process, Christy befriended Col. Theodore Roosevelt and gained a broader interest in patriotic subjects. By the time he returned home in 1898, he was a celebrity. His fame and reputation was secured with The Soldier's Dream published in Scribner's where he portrayed a beautiful girl known as "The Christy Girl," an idea image for an all American woman.
From that point forward, Christy painted beautiful women for McClure's and other popular magazines. In 1908, he returned to Ohio and in spite of being far away from the mainstream, he still had numerous commissions. In 1915, Christy returned to New York and opened a studio apartment at the Hotel des Artistes and continued illustrating. As war once again appeared imminent, Christy rallied his talents to assist the war effort by painting posters for government war bonds, the Red Cross, Navy, Marines, and in support of civilian volunteer efforts. His famous poster of a young woman dressed in a sailors uniform with the caption, "If I were a man, I would join the Navy," is from this period.During the 1920s, Christy turned from illustration to portrait painting. He painted Benito Mussolini, Crown Prince Umberto of Italy, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, U.S. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Coolidge, Hoover, Polk, Van Buren and Garfield; humorist Will Rogers, aviator Amelia Earhart, General Douglas MacArthur, and William Randolph Hearst.
Condition report available upon request.
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