Harry Anderson (artist)

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Harry Anderson
Born (1906-08-11)August 11, 1906
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[1]
Died November 19, 1996(1996-11-19) (aged 90)
Nationality American (United States)
Education Syracuse School of Art
Known for Painting, Illustration
Awards New York Art Directors Club, Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame[citation needed]
Patron(s) Seventh-day Adventist Church, LDS Church, Exxon, numerous magazines

Harry Anderson (August 11, 1906 – November 19, 1996[2]) was an American illustrator and a member of the Illustrator's Hall of Fame. A devout Seventh-day Adventist artist, he is best known for Christian-themed illustrations he painted for the Adventist church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was also a popular illustrator of short stories in American weekly magazines during the 1930s and early 1940s.


Originally intending to be a mathematician, in 1925 while attending the University of Illinois, Joseph Harry Anderson discovered a talent and love for drawing and painting.[1] Harry's father Joseph named all his male children "Joseph" so each son went by their middle names, thus Harry Anderson is the name he went by. In 1927, he moved to Syracuse, New York and attended the Syracuse School of Art with friend and fellow artist Tom Lovell for classical art education.[1] He graduated in 1931 during the Great Depression and had difficulty making a living. Within a year he earned enough by doing art for magazines to return home to Chicago. By 1937 he was working on national advertising campaigns and doing work for several major magazines, such as Collier's, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post and others.[1]

About 1940, Anderson married Ruth Huebel,[3] a girl who worked in his building and posed for him on one occasion.[1] The following year he went to work for Haddon Sundblom's studio. In 1944, Anderson and his wife joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, by request, in 1945 he did his first painting of Jesus. Anderson's painting, "What Happened to Your Hand?", depicting Jesus with modern-day children was decried as blasphemous by some adults, but was eventually printed in the publishing program after the editor's daughter longingly wished that she too could sit on Jesus' lap like the girl in the painting. This was the very first painting of Jesus done showing Him in a modern-day setting.[1] From that time on, he split his time between commercial illustrations and religious ones. He did approximately 300 religious-themed pieces for the SDA Church at near minimum wage.[1]

Anderson was featured in a 1956 issue of American Artist and received awards from several associations throughout his career. He was awarded the prestigious New York Art Directors Club. In 1994, he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame, joining such notable illustrators as Norman Rockwell, James Montgomery Flagg, and N. C. Wyeth.[1]

In the 1960s, Anderson did work for Exxon Oil (then Esso). In the mid-1960s, he was commissioned to create a number of paintings for the LDS Church. He painted a large oil mural of Jesus ordaining his apostles for the church's pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Following this, he did nearly two dozen more paintings for the LDS Church;[3] enlarged re-paintings of many of these are displayed in the Temple Square Visitors Center and the lobby of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at other prominent church locations. Re-prints of some of Anderson's paintings can be found hanging in nearly every LDS Church meetinghouse and temple in the world.[3] The paintings are also still widely used by the church for many of its printed and online materials.

In his 70's and 80's, Anderson made western-themed paintings for several fine art galleries, a pursuit shared by several well-known retired American illustrators of that era.

In his spare time, Anderson enjoyed crafting model ships and buggies, hooking rugs, carving flocks of birds, making furniture and other hands-on crafts.[1]

In March 2008, "Harry Anderson's" work was discussed on a segment of PBS's History Detectives, which focused on a comic book he created about the famous amputee baseball player Pete Gray, but this was a different Harry Anderson who was a cartoonist in the 50's who mainly illustrated horror comics, not the Harry Anderson who did full color story illustration paintings and religious paintings. Also, there was another artist in the 30's-50's by the name of Harold Anderson with a similar art style who was also not Harry Anderson.

In 2004 a 19-page article on Harry Anderson appeared in Illustration Magazine #12 written by Matt Zimmer with contributions by Jim Pinkoski and Nexus cartoonist Steve Rude. Dinotopia artist James Gurney has done numerous posts on his blog regarding Harry Anderson's art.

In 2014 an extensive webpage of Harry Anderson's artwork was posted on the Internet by Jim Pinkoski at www.HarryAndersonArt.com.


  • Harry Anderson: The Man Behind the Paintings, Woolsey, Raymond H. and Anderson, Ruth.
  • Tippett, H. M. "Harry Anderson: Nationally Known Illustrator". I Became a Seventh-day Adventist. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. pp. 53–56. 
  • Illustration Magazine #12, Winter 2004, pages 44-62

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harry Anderson biography from BPIB
  2. ^ Harry Anderson from Pinkoski.com
  3. ^ a b c Harry Anderson from School of Abraham

External links[edit]