Search Results for 'culter'

Gay Nineties Cartoon, “The Dude” by Richard Vincent Culter

“The Dude”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

16 x 19.25 inches

49.6 x 48.9 cm


The Gay Nineties

By Michael B. Scanlan

About 10 years ago, my wife and I stumbled upon an estate sale on the outskirts of Seattle.Inside the house, a large portfolio was laid open, displaying a charcoal illustration of young adults playing croquet.It was a rather large illustration, about 18 x 15 inches in size, and had an interesting signature in the corner that appeared to read, RV Culter.The artist had clearly drawn the scene with a very loose hand, but the facial expressions of all of the figures were perfectly captured, and the perspective of the players purposefully introduced the viewer to their game.

The whole image has been divided horizontally, with the forecourt left almost untouched, to represent the lawn and to boldly contrast against the main character’s silouette.The upper half, on the other hand, displays a detailed background that gradually fades and nearly disappears, forcing the viewer to immediately focus is on the main character in the forecourt – a young woman standing in a long flowing skirt, facing her opponents with her back to the viewer.

Her restrained profile and statuesque figure suggest feminine innocence, as she awaits her next turn. Meanwhile, the taunting smile on the nearest man suggests he will ignore the forlorn look on another player, as his mallet, held high above his head, prepares to propel her ball as far as possible from the field of play. The final player seems amused as he watches from the farthest wicket, while an elderly couple watches the contest seated from a nearby bench  of a stately home.

The drawing was genuinely amusing and brilliantly designed.

The paper was quite thick and in excellent condition, however had a slight yellowish cast, which I initially mistook for age or water damage, but later learned was a thin layer of varnish to seal the charcoal. On either side of the drawing were publishing marks to align images for reproduction and on the verso were several hand-written numbers and a copyright notice for LIFE PUBLISHING COMPANY. A small piece of paper had been glued to the back to display the artist’s conceptual statement, which read:

“The Gay Nineties.

The styles of the day sometimes proved a factor in the popular game of Croquet.For instance – the modish lady in the foreground, in strolling about awaiting her turn to play, has happened to drag her skirt across the ball, leaving it – by the merest prank of Fate – in a much better position for her next wicket.”

The portfolio contained 16 illustrations by Culter which had all been published in Life.Handwritten in pencil on the inside of the portfolio was “Charles Dana Gibson”.The exterior had only a few remnants of the original leather, but otherwise was in good condition. The center of the front cover was deeply impressed with “THE GAY TWENTIES”.

Beneath the first drawing were 15 more of Culter’s drawings humorously recording glimpses of American lifestyles at the end of the 19th century. One by one, I picked up each piece and admired the wit and perception displayed by Culter, as family events, fashion trends, actors, statesmen, soldiers, musicians, and new-fangled gadgetry all were cast with his unique, tongue-in-cheek imagery. Along with the illustrations was a very brief synopsis of his association with Life Publishing, which began in the Spring of 1925, when, along with three of his drawings, went into the offices of Life Publishing in New York to meet Charles Dana Gibson, the magazine’s owner and publisher; Robert Sherwood, the editor; and Frank Casey, the art editor. Each of the drawings humorously captured everyday scenes and people from his childhood memories, which Culter referred to as “The Gay Nineties”.

While Gibson and his editors admired Culter’s works, they were skeptical the general public would appreciate them as they represented a bygone era, however agreed to publish all three. To their great surprise, “The Gay Nineties” was an instant hit and immediately became a weekly addition to Life.

By 1927, Culter’s following had become so great, The Life Publishing Company reproduced 70 of his illustrations in a book titled, “The Gay Nineties – an Album of Reminiscent Drawings by Richard Vincent Culter”. People of all ages and from all walks of life were captured through Culter’s gifted mind and talented hand, reflecting the less hectic, and somewhat more joyful, days gone by.

Tragically, 45-year old Richard Vincent Culter died unexpectedly in January of 1929, leaving an unfulfilled legacy of his timeless humor and artistic talents.

Apparently, the portfolio I found in Seattle had originally contained all of the 70 drawings by Culter and was the personal property of Charles Dana Gibson.With newfound interest, I looked again at the drawings and continued to smile, seeing things I’d missed the first time.Each of the drawings was priced individually, and even after 30 or 40 minutes of admiring, it was still impossible to choose my favorites, so I successfully negotiated for all of them.They went into a large plastic sleeve to protect them where they still remain.

Even today, more than 10 years after acquiring them, I still love to carefully review and critically analyze each piece, as I’ve done dozens of times, yet still can’t pick my favorite, but I have finally narrowed it down to the top ten.

Thank you, Mr. Culter,  for keeping your youth alive.

Gay Nineties Cartoon, “Show People” by Richard Vincent Culter

“Show People”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

15.5 x 17.5 inches

39.4 x 43.2 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “Bootblack Changes” by Richard Vincent Culter

“Bootblack Changes”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

15.5  x 18 inches

39.4 x 44.7 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “World’s Fair” by Richard Vincent Culter

“World’s Fair”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine sewries, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

14.25 x 16 inches

36.2 x 40.6 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “Thanksgiving” by Richard Vincent Culter

Why is Thanksgiving always on Thursday?

Well, we don’t know for sure, but we do know the first recognized Thanksgiving took place in October 1621, and lasted three days.
Barely half of the original 131 travelers aboard the Mayflower survived the lengthy journey to The New World and their bitter first winter, which none had anticipated. Many had boarded the ship in mid July which reached The New World on Nov 9, 1620, and with no fortified shelter ashore, were forced to stay aboard the ship outside Cape Cod until March 21, 1621.

History tells us the English Separationists (200 years later called Pilgrims) from the Mayflower, were taught to farm by the Wampanoag, who inhabited southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and an area now known as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. To celebrate their bountiful first crop, including beans, corn, and squash, a harvest festival took place which was attended by both the settlers and the Wampanoag, who also brought venison, wildfowl, fish, and shellfish.

But why were subsequent Thanksgiving Days celebrated on Thursday? The most likely conclusion was so it would be distant from the Sabath and because it was the day ministers lectured their parishioners. So, Thursdays were chosen well before George Washington’s time.

Individual states celebrated on different dates, ranging from October through November until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln, at the tenacious request of Sarah Josepha Hale, who petitioned five different US Presidents to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, and in hopes of bringing our country back together during the Civil War, proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving, a national holiday. Later, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an effort to boost the economy during the Great Depression, changed the date to the fourth Thursday in November, which is still the official date.

Much has changed since that first Thanksgiving almost four hundred years ago, but the ability to gather with family and friends to give thanks has changed little. In his weekly cartoon for Life magazine, The Gay Nineties creator, Richard Vincent Culter captured Thanksgiving memories from his 1890’s childhood in a scene that, other than costume, could easily take place today. The master of the house stands at the head of the table, thoroughly engrossed in carving the roasted turkey, while his wife serves mash potatoes and trimmings from the other end, as family and friends dressed to the nines, laugh and converse with each other, patiently awaiting the feast.

Charcoal drawing on paper
15 x 17 inches

“Thanksgiving”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

                                                                                                                                          15  x 17.5 inches

38.1 x 44.4 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, ” Liebst Mir Im Herzen” by Richard Vincent Culter

“Liebst Mir Im Herzen”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

14.5 x 18.5 inches

36.8 x 47 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “Males Only” by Richard Vincent Culter

“Males Only”, a graphite drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

16 x 17 inches

40.6 x 43.2 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “New Year’s Day” by Richard Vincent Culter

“New Year’s Day”, a graphite drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

15 x 18 inches

38.1 x 48.7 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “Croquet” by Richard Vincnet Culter

“Croquet”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

16  x 16.5 inches

40.6 x 41.9 cm


Gay Nineties Cartoon, “The Autograph Album” by Richard Vincent Culter

“The Autograph Album”, a charcoal drawing for Life Magazine series, The Gay Nineties by Richard Vincent Culter, c. 1926

15 x 17 inches

38.1 x 43.2 cm


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