Harold von Schmidt

Artist Biography

Harold von Schmidt was an illustrator and painter whose work appeared in several magazines and novels. While growing up in Alameda, California, Von Schmidt was encouraged to pursue art by his aunt. He studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and, later, at the San Francisco Art Institute. During his studies, he began working in advertising and, in 1913, Von Schmidt completed his first cover design for Sunset magazine. In addition to his artistic abilities, Von Schmidt also had athletic talent, joining the United States rugby team at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics.

Von Schmidt moved to New York City in 1924 where he studied with painter Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art. He would later join the Famous Artists School as one of the founding faculty. Throughout his career, Von Schmidt found success illustrating western subjects in such publications as The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, and Collier’s Weekly. He is known for his dynamic action scenes, which often feature cowboys on horseback or athletes competing mid-game. Von Schmidt also illustrated Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, painted for the United States Military Academy at West Point, and designed a stamp commemorating the Pony Express. Today, his work is in the collections of the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art, Norman Rockwell Museum, and National Museum of American Illustration.

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