E. W. Kemble
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Kemble was born in Sacramento, California.
In 1875, he was enrolled at a boarding school in Philadelphia, which was a center of artistic activity. His artistic talent was natural enough that he was a successful contributor to periodicals by 1881. He became the major political cartoonist for the New York Graphic while receiving his only formal artistic training at the Art Students League.
When Life magazine was founded in 1883, Kemble became a frequent contributor to its early issues. He was a staff political cartoonist for Collier's Weekly from 1903-1907, and then Harper's Weekly from 1907-1912, before returning to Collier's, Leslie's Weekly and Judge in the late 1910s.
His lively cartoons, some of the magazine industry's most mature work, attracted the attention of Mark Twain, who employed Kemble to illustrate Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Kemble illustrated several other famous books as well, including Twain's Puddin' Head Wilson, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Washington Irving's Knickerbocker History of New York, and many of Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories.
Kemble is best remembered for his specialty, cartoons of African Americans. He is perhaps cartooning's supreme delineator of blacks, and his characterizations were often sympathetic. He took care to study the real urban and rural environs and living conditions of blacks. As such, his caricatures were never absurdly exaggerated, although he used every thematic convention to the fullest. Kemble produced many sensitive, almost photographic portraits of African Americans.
Kemble died in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1933, aged 72.
Horn, Maurice, ed. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons. 2d ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
Reed, Walt. The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000. New York: The Society of Illustrators, 2001.
Samuels, Peggy, and Harold Samuels. Samuels' Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Secaucus, N.J.: Castle, 1985.
- Comic Creator: E. W. Kemble via lambiek.net
- Kemble, E.W. (February 1930). Illustrating Huckleberry Finn. The Colophon, A Book Collectors' Quarterly (via University of Virginia)
- Kemble's Illustrations for Huck Finn (via University of Virginia)
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