Edward Everett Henry [1893-1961]: artist, camoufleur & cartographer

Edward Everett Henry [1893-1961], sometimes known as E.Everett Henry or just plain Everett Henry, was an American artist whose career spanned most of the first half of the 20th Century and whose multi-faceted talents extended into many different spheres of American visual art, commercial advertising and graphic design.

Many map lovers will know him from the two striking stand-alone Art Deco maps – The New Map of the World and Our United States – commissioned in 1928 & 1930 by the owners of the Washington Square Book Shop in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The New Map of the World by Everett Henry for the Washington Square Book Shop [1928]

Courtesy of the David Rumsey Collection

Or for the series of nine captivating “literary maps” which he designed in the final decade of his life for the Cleveland printers, Harris-Seybold, between 1953 & 1961. Each cleverly summarize the plots & principal characters of some of the great classics of American and British literature, such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, Robin Hood & His Merry Men, Ivanhoe and A Tale of Two Cities.

The Voyage of the Pequod from the Book Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Pictorial Literary Map by Everett Henry for the Harris-Seybold Company [1956]

Yet Henry’s art had a wider influence & impact, stretching far beyond the field of 20th Century pictorial cartography, and this blog post aims to reveal aspects of his life and career which previous studies have sadly overlooked or simply not known about.

Edward Everett Henry was born  on November 5th 1893 in King’s, Brooklyn, NYC, the only son of George Everett Henry [1864-c1925] and his wife Julia (née Charlock) [1869-1953], both seemingly Brooklyn natives. His father was an electrotype setter for one of New York’s daily newspapers, whence probably developed his interest in printing, art & typography. The family resided in Ridgewood, NJ, where Everett appears to have spent most of his youth.

His artist talents were evident from an early age. By the time of the First World War he was a student at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. The School was one of the foremost in the country, having been established by William Merritt Chase in 1904 under the direction of Frank Alva Parsons. In Jan 1915 he won an important competition (prize $25) for a poster design for the School’s Junior League performance of “The City of Beautiful Nonsenses,” at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Twelve months later another  prize offered by the national magazine, Telephone Review, would see his winning artwork appear on the cover of its New Year issue – Vol 7 No.1 – January 1916.

By the time of the First World War in 1917, Henry’s Army draft records, dated June 5th 1917, show him employed as an assistant tutor (artist) in advertising at the New York School of Fine & Applied Arts at 2237-2239 Broadway. Henry is described as slender, of medium build with brown hair & blue eyes.

It would appear that at this moment, like many contemporaries at US Art Schools, his youthful talents found a new patriotic direction & novel military applications in the wake of America’s entry into the First World War. Henry enlisted as a private soldier with what would shortly become the 40th Engineers, a newly formed camouflage unit and the first ever established in the United States. The need for a specialist unit of this sort had been loudly proclaimed by fellow artists such as renowned muralist, Barry Faulkner [1881-1966] and Iowa sculptor Sherry Edmundson Fry [1879-1966]. Within a few months a core of some 100 men drawn from the US artist & designer community had been co-opted into a private society  “American Camouflage” ready to be called upon by the US military for deployment alongside the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in the European theatre. It included such notable figures as artist Abbott Handerson Thayer [1849-1921], the so-called “father of camouflage” and by coincidence a maternal cousin of Faulkner’s; sculptor Daniel Chester French [1850-1931], designer of Lincoln’s statue for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and Cass Gilbert [1859-1934], architect of the recently erected Woolworth Building in New York.

The first group of the Army’s new would-be Camouflage Corps, Henry probably amongst them, assembled for specialist training at Camp Leach in the grounds of American University in Washington, D.C., in September 1917.

The Tents & Huts of Camp American University & Camp Leach, Washington DC, 1917

Courtesy of the Library of Congress (Harris & Ewing Collection)

Whilst there they soon began publishing their own unit magazine, The Camoufleur. As Roy R Behrens notes in his splendid Camoupedia blog, the new camouflage unit at Camp Leach received a special visit from US President Woodrow Wilson, Mrs. Wilson, Secretary of War Newton Baker, Commanding General John J. Pershing and various other high-ranking officers and dignitaries on October 31, 1917. Curiously among the visitors that day was the well-known portrait painter, John Singer Sargent [1856-1925]. According to the Camp magazine, The Camoufleur, the two soldiers in charge of the demonstrations to President Wilson & the accompanying dignitaries that day were Sherry Edmundson Fry and Barry Faulkner.

Portrait of Homer Saint-Gaudens in 1924

By December 1917 the US Army finally recognized the inherent value of such a unit (now widely referred to as camoufleurs) and designated Faulkner’s men as a new Regiment (4oth  Engineers) comprising some 260 men. An initial deployment, Company A, commanded by sculptor Homer Saint-Gaudens [1880-1958] (who also happened to have been Barry Faulkner’s room mate as a freshman at Harvard) were sent to France in January 1918.

The Camoufleurs : Illustration from the front cover of Literary Digest, 12th Jan 1918

Everett Henry was also part of this first deployment, departing with Barry Faulkner (now promoted from private soldier to the rank of Sergeant (1st Class)) from Hoboken NJ with some 230 comrades on board the Army transport ship America on Jan 4th 1918. 40th Engineers’ HQ and camouflage factory base was established at Dijon. Henry would see much service with the AEF in these final hard-fought months of the war. He was evidently a good camoufleur & soldier as he appears to have been rapidly promoted from private soldier to the rank of 2nd Lt & was subsequently transferred to the 4oth’s newly formed Company B later in 1918.

In March 1918, Henry’s future unit, Company B, was busy preparing for its own departure for Europe after initial training at Camp Leach. They were planning a farewell Camouflage Ball at DC’s Willard Rooms, which were receiving a special Continental makeover at the unit’s eminently skilled hands. As the Washington Post noted:

The Camoufleurs are a corps of architects, mural artists, interior decorators, sculptors, scenic artists, landscape artists, scenic designers and stage carpenters in the training camp at the American University doing some wonderful work in the way of camouflaging everything in the good work of winning the war…concealing batteries, camouflaging stretches of roadway, designing snipers and observers uniforms, and originating many other interesting devices with which to deceive and otherwise baffle the “Fritzes”…

Amongst these most unusual designs & “interesting devices” were cleverly crafted “rock” uniforms and artificial papier-mâché horse carcasses which might conceal a sniper or observer amid the debris & detritus of the battle field. The latter was apparently the brainchild of Barry Faulkner’s colleague, sculptor 2nd Lt Harry Dickinson Thrasher, who would sadly be killed on the front in August 1918 (as mentioned in Harry MacKechnie’s letter (below)).

By the early summer the newly trained Company B was also in France. The 40th Engineers would suffer casualties in heavy fighting in the Chateau-Thierry sector (July 1918) and in the arduous Meuse-Argonne offensive (Sept-Nov 1918). Two further camoufleurs would lose their lives on the battlefront during this period: Sgt Harry Wolf, a New York architect & Sgt Everit Albert Herter, the son of a Fifth Avenue decorator. Capt John W Root & eleven others would be wounded. The Regiment  would remain in France after the Armistice until finally demobilized in Washington DC in Feb 1919.

Army archives record Henry with a group of five fellow officers of Company B, all resident New Yorkers, together with the rest of his unit & others of the Regiment, departing the Breton port of Brest on Jan 9th (it was here that Barry Faulkner apparently enjoyed a final few days of bacchanalian indulgence before their departure as he and several camoufleur comrades took lodgings with a local French family & their two gorgeous daughters!). They arrived back in New York on board the Army transport ship, Gontoer, on Jan 24th 1919. As the Cornell Daily Sun of Jan 25th noted:

The Goentoer brought home 40 officers and 653 men of the 40th Regiment of engineers — headquarters detachment, medical detachment, headquarters detachment of 1st battalion replacement detachment, and companies A, B, I and K.

Henry’s fellow Company B officers on the return voyage included 2nd Lt Egbert Jacobson [1890-1966], a pioneer in colour theory & typography, who, in 1936, would become influential Head of Design at Walter Paepke’s Chicago packaging firm, the Container Corporation of America. Jacobson had also been a private soldier with Henry on the original outward voyage to France 12 months earlier. And Capt Carroll Thayer Berry [1886-1978], a native of New Gloucester, Maine & alumnus of the University of Michigan, apparently one of the first officers assigned to the Camouflage unit in 1917, who would later settle in Chicago and then return to his native New England, becoming a well-known poster designer and accomplished printmaker.  Of the two remaining subalterns, 2nd Lt Harry W MacKechnie [b. 1892] was a Brooklynite & graduate of the University of Illinois, who in September 1918 had transferred from the 25th Regiment of Engineers. Before being assigned to the 40th, he was detailed to the Central Camouflage Depot & School in Dijon:

War artist Ernest Peixotto’s depiction of French women at work in the Central Camouflage Depot in Dijon making nets of painted burlap & wire to camouflage American batteries & gun emplacements, 1918

Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

(AF.25893, War Department. Historical Branch of the General Staff)

MacKechnie describes his time in Dijon in a interesting letter home, published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“I am in one of the prettiest camps and with the best crowd in France. This is a perfectly charming town just far enough south to feel the influence of Italian architecture and set in the most glorious country. There are hills all about us and prosperous villages. The camp is the camouflage depot, where all the material and set pieces are made. The personnel, officers and men are mostly architects, artists, sculptors and sign painters. The officers quarters are the most homelike I’ve seen here in France. The partitions are simple burlap bagging painted a brownish yellow, with blue stripes forming a wainscot. The dining room has a home made drop light over the table of painted cheesecloth tacked on a wooden frame. The women who work here bring their children and the Red Cross has established a nursery, which our boys have decorated beautifully. Several of the men were living in France before the war as artists and architects…One was killed a short time ago at the front  [probably 2nd Lt Harry D Thresher]. It is a great old town, one of the best, having a university and splendid examples of architecture of the best periods Flemish, French, Gothic, Italian and French Renaissance and Louis XVI. It is a place one could spend months in and find interesting places every day. We are far enough up to feel the activity of war. A French artillery company goes by every morning and evening singing the favorite song ‘Madeline.’ Everywhere you go you hear it. One of the boys, a second lieutenant of infantry, was sent to this section after being wounded twice and gassed. He was in Relleau Woods and Chateau-Thierry. You can imagine that he had some great tales to tell Germans chained to their guns, and some other men on their right found women chained to guns. Imagine it! I pull out today to go up to be assigned to a corps or division. It will be great to get into It, instead of being a looker-on. The work is fascinating, for the camouflage officers are attached to various staffs, and will naturally move around a great deal. There is danger, though not very great, of getting a “blighty” but “c’est la guerre.”

Henry’s own formative war experiences & training as a wartime camoufleur has been entirely overlooked in all previous profiles & biographical studies. They undoubtedly played a significant part in the emergence of his own distinctive artistic style, an amalgam of modernist & symbolist, notable for its highly effective use of block colour and striking contrasts of light & shade.

On his return to post-war civilian life, Henry appears to have found ready employment as a commercial illustrator & artist, working on magazine advertisements for a number of major corporate clients, perhaps most notably the Franklin Automobile Co of Syracuse, NY, for whom he produced several fine ads in the mid-1920s, depicting their sleek open-topped sports runabouts & more genteel sedans:

Henry’s stylish depiction of the Franklin Sports Runabout, 1925

By the mid 1920s Henry’s father had sadly passed away. In 1926 he travelled with his widowed mother to France, one of several trips to Europe that he would enjoy during this period, as his professional career evidently took off.

“Air Magic” – stunning artwork by Henry for a 1928 advertising campaign by Graybar Radios

By the early 1930s his commercial illustration work regularly featured in major magazine advertising campaigns as well as accompanying short stories and features in national weeklies such as the Saturday Evening Post, The American, Collier’s, Woman’s Home Companion & Delineator and later Redbook & Newsweek.

In 1930, Currier & Ives reproduced Henry’s fine historical drawing depicting the first ever Intercollegiate Football Game in America between Yale & Princeton which had taken place at St. George Cricket Field in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Thanksgiving Day, November 1876. It was dedicated to the memory of Walter Camp, one of the Yale team in that match:

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

In 1934 Henry illustrated a special edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Frankenstein, a print run of 1500 copies for the Limited Editions Club of New York. It was later republished by the Heritage Press in 1962.

Henry’s big break came in 1935 when he was commissioned to produce a superb World map mural for the Ford Motor Company as a central feature of the Ford Exposition Building at the San Diego World’s Fair.

Curving around the inner wall of the Entrance Hall this monumental mural measured some 22 feet high and 65 feet in length. Small electric lights on the map pinpointed all the principal Ford factories and production centres around the globe. In front of it, a model of the first experimental automobile, the iconic Henry Ford quadricycle [1896], was exhibited prominently in a glass case.

The following year, 1936, Henry went into partnership with fellow artists Louis Bouché [1896-1969] and Allen Saalburg [1899-1987] to design and paint murals for important corporate clients & commercial projects.

The fruits of this cooperation would be seen in their stunning work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and in their series of modernist murals & designs for the US Government Building and Home Building Center at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. A fine photograph of Henry, Bouché & Saalburg dating from this period forms part of the Louis Bouché papers preserved in the Archives of American Art.

Another little-known adjunct to Henry’s career as a muralist and pictorial cartographer during the late 1920s & 1930s was as a maker of pictorial estate plans. We were very excited to recently locate within the pages of a late 1930s interiors magazine an illustration of Henry’s superb plan of the estate of Mr & Mrs Vaughan Flannery, Cockade Farms at Darlington in Hartford County, Maryland:

Pictorial Estate Plan by Everett Henry depicting Vaughan Flannery’s Cockade  Farms, Darlington, Maryland  [1936]

It would be fascinating to discover the present-day whereabouts of Henry’s Cockade Farms estate plan.**

The connections between Flannery & Henry are illuminating. In the early 1930s Burt Vaughn Flannery or plain Vaughan Flannery [1898-1955] traded his busy New York lifestyle for the delights of the above Hartford County horse stud & cattle farm. Prior to this radical & unconventional switch, he had been an important and influential figure in American advertising: from 1923 to 1930 the Art Director of Philadelphia ad agency, N W Ayer & Co and then at Young & Rubicon in New York. He married Elizabeth Ettinger in Philadelphia in 1926. Like Henry, he was a trained artist and would subsequently attain national recognition for his modernist depictions of race horses and behind-the-scenes images of racing life. He is also said to have undertaken camouflage work with the US Army during World War I, though seemingly he was not drafted until September 1918. Flannery was also an influential figure with the Steinway Company particularly in persuading them to commission a series of paintings by contemporary artists for the Company’s own Art Collection, each work inspired by a particular musical piece or composition. One of the principal beneficiaries of this policy happened to be Henry himself, whose interpretation of Australian-born composer Percy Grainger’s Colonial Song was one such Steinway commission in 1929:

By the early 1930s Henry had married and by 1940 was comfortably settled in central New York. The couple moved to New Canaan, Fairfield Connecticut in the early 1940s where they remained for several years. Henry became a prominent fixture in the local New Canaan Historical Society and a popular judge at local Art exhibitions. The couple finally moved to Amagansett, East Hampton, NY in the late 1950s. Henry had been closely associated with the area for many years after periodic painting expeditions & exhibits there in the post-war years.

In the late 1940s Henry was commissioned to produce a series of flower-themed paintings as part of an advertising campaign for Dixie Belle Gin.

One of Henry’s most striking & moving designs was a wartime painting that illustrated the work of poet Joseph Auslander [1897-1965]. Auslander’s Open Letter to the Unconquerable Poles, formed part of a portfolio of five poems published as a supplements to the Saturday Evening Post with the title Tribute to the Unconquerables – those European countries that had suffered German invasion & occupation but whose national spirit and character had remained unbroken & unbowed by Nazi terror & oppression.

Joseph Auslander: An Open Letter to the Unconquerable Poles – Painting by Everett Henry

From: Tribute to the Unconquerables, Portfolio of 5 special supplements to the Saturday Evening Post,  Jan 1944

Courtesy of University of North Texas Digital Library, UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Auslander’s Tribute was part of a nationwide advertising campaign which began in January 1944 to raise funds for the Government’s 4th War Loan. The United States Ambassador for the Polish Government in exile, Jan Chiechanowski, expressed the gratitude of the Polish people: “In this salute of encouragement from your nation to mine, you pour fresh hope and strength into the cause to which we are eternally dedicated. Your presentation of Tribute to the Unconquerables adds tangible momentum to the faith in ultimate victory. Your expression of encouragement will be heard and understood by Poles everywhere.” There were also tributes to the Dutch, Greeks & Norwegians. Interestingly it was Henry’s friend and colleague, Allen Saalburg, who illustrated Auslander’s tribute to the Czechs.

Henry’s most notable production from the mid-1950s onwards was the series of nine literary maps (of a final total of twelve, the last three completed by fellow artists Paul Riba & Ken Riley after Henry’s death). These were designed for an annual pictorial calendar published every July over a 12 year period from 1953 by Cleveland printing Company, Harris-Seybold and illustrating the great British and American literary classics. Henry’s maps comprised: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer [1953]; Treasure Island [1954]; The Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merry Men [1955]; Moby Dick [1956]; A Tale of Two Cities [1957]; Ivanhoe [1958]; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn [1959]; The Virginian [1960] and The Red Badge of Courage [1961].

The Adventures of Robin Hood And His Merry Men From Tales of Sherwood Forest

A Pictorial Literary Map by Everett Henry for the Harris-Seybold Company [1955]

A Tale of Two Cities from the Book by Charles Dickens

A Pictorial Literary Map by Everett Henry for the Harris-Seybold Company [1957]

In November 1956 he was commissioned by Life magazine to produced some spectacular cartographic artwork (depicting the East Coast of North America during the early colonial period) to illustrate the magazine’s important serialisation of Winston Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

According to Stephen J Hornsby, in 1958 the John Hancock Mutual Life Company commissioned Henry to create a “snapshot of 1950s America”: A Picture of your Premium Dollars at Work shows jet fighters and rockets, as well as the bounteous production of US agriculture & industry.

One of Henry’s last works was a pictorial map of his new home town, East Hampton NY, commissioned by the local Chamber of Commerce in about 1960.

Official US social security records relating to Everett Henry’s death are filed with a date of December 5th 1960, which suggest his oft-repeated date of death (1961) found attached to innumerable on-line biographies & references might, in fact, require amendment. As yet, we have been unable to verify beyond doubt  whether this is actually the case.

An article in the September 1946 issue of Esquire magazine entitled Everett Henry: Symbolist described his art in the following terms:

Everett Henry is an artist who creates his world…..Like Proust he evokes a region of the intangible out of small fragments of reality…You can appreciate him without knowing anything about aesthetics.  These little paintings of his contain within them not only a Proustian remembrance of things past but a joy in the contemplation of things to come. They are links between yesterday and tomorrow, they make the future contiguous upon the past…In America we like our art straight. The appeal of Everett’s art is so direct, so frank in its approach to eye and appetite….

A fitting epitaph to a consummate camoufleur & undoubtedly one of the greatest and most stylistically distinctive artists, illustrators, muralists and pictorial cartographers of early 20th Century America.

Refs: David Rumsey Collection; Language of the Land (Library of Congress Book of Literary Maps, 1999), pp.13-15 &c; Stephen J Hornsby: Picturing America the golden age of pictorial maps (Chicago University Press, 2017), Pl 32 (p.99), Pl.42 (pp.108-109), Pl.104 (p.183), Pl.149 (p.251) &c; Homer Saint-Gaudens: Camouflage & Art, American Magazine of Art, Vol X, No.9 (July 1919) pp.319-322; Malcolm E Williamson: The Artist at WarPrologue Magazine, Spring 2012, Vol. 44, No. 1; The War of Deception, Artists & Camouflage in World War One (Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, NPS); Barry Faulkner: Sketches from an Artist’s Life [W L Buchan, 1973]; Peter Forbes: Dazzled and Deceived – Mimickry and Camouflage (Yale University Press, 2009)

 

**Postscript [June 2024]

I was recently contacted by the present owners of Cockade Farms, Darlington, Maryland enquiring about Everett Henry’s 1936 map of the Estate drawn for its then owner, fellow artist, Burt Vaughn (or Vaughan) Flannery [1898-1955], as illustrated in this blog. After further investigations, it transpires that Henry’s map does still survive. Additional research also reveals that Flannery and Henry were, in fact, very closely related, their respective wives, Elizabeth and Janet (née Ettinger), being sisters.