Howard Chandler Christy is recognized as one of America's most accomplished illustrators of the early twentieth century. He was particularly known for the "Christy Girl," a new idealized standard of modern beauty he established in his depictions of women.
Christy was born in Ohio and showed exceptional artistic talent at an early age. Determined to pursue a career in art, he moved to New York City in 1890 and studied with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League and privately at the Tenth Street Studio. Christy entered the National Academy of Design in 1893 and was singled out for skillful draftsmanship. He also displayed great facility as a painter, but decided to pursue a career in illustration, influenced by noted illustrators Edwin Austin Abbey and Howard Pyle. Christy quickly excelled in his chosen field, and his work was featured in the most prominent periodicals of the day, as well as in books. He also served as a sketch artist during the Spanish American War; his drawings were widely published back home.
Dashing virtuosity and a lush application of pigment in muted tonalities characterizes Christy's work in oil, as illustrated by Live Oak, New Orleans and other landscapes from the 1920s. This period also marked the artist's declining interest in illustration as he began concentrating on portraiture and landscape subjects that reflect the painterly example of his mentor, Chase. In the 1930s, Christy's production had a more decorative orientation and included screens, panels, and murals, particularly of sylph-like nudes in woodland settings. From the late 1930s until his death, he produced a number of ambitious paintings devoted to historical and religious themes, despite declining health and eyesight.
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