Calendars, whether they are hanging in cabins or local gas stations, have depicted outdoor sporting scenes for decades. Vintage calendars with fishing and hunting scenes painted during the golden age of illustration from 1910 to the 1950s by famous American outdoor artists such as Philip Goodwin, Oliver Kemp, and Hy Hintermeister have become very collectible.
The Horton Manufacturing Company produced some particularly beautiful fishing calendars in the early part of last century to promote their line of Bristol rods and tackle. The calendar tops included art from Philip Goodwin and Oliver Kemp and a series of high-quality art prints were also produced as promotional samples for their salesmen.
Philip R. Goodwin was an artist and illustrator who specialized in Western hunting, fishing and outdoor scenes. He was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1881 and published his first illustration in Collier’s Magazine at the age of eleven. He went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He was later a student of famous outdoor painter Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia.
Goodwin was also an outdoorsman who lived many of the experiences that he later depicted in his art, often embarking on sketching expeditions with his fellow wildlife artist Charles Russell. In 1903, Goodwin completed the illustrations for Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and other books, as well as advertisements and posters.
From his studio in New York City, he completed many illustrations for Collier’s Weekly and Outdoor Life and other outdoor publications. He died at the age of 54 in 1935, but not before creating one of the most important bodies of artwork in American outdoor sporting heritage.
Oliver Kemp (1887-1934) was another important outdoor artist who studied with Howard Pyle. He also studied with James Whistler and other mentors in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Kemp was best known for the many covers designed for the “Saturday Evening Post”. Kemp produced paintings for Collier’s, Scribner’s, and Century Magazine. His work was also featured in the State of New York Forest, Fish and Game Commission’s Annual Reports.
Kemp served as a Major in World War I and lived in Michigan while working in New York City and making annual trips to the Rocky Mountains and other areas in the West. He also explored jungle areas worldwide.
Artist Henry Hintermeister (1898-1972) often painted humorous fishing scenes that appeared on many calendars. He painted as a team with his father John Henry Hintermeister, and together they created over 1,000 works under the pseudonym “Hy Hintermeister” until the 1940s. Their identical signatures on their art make them close to impossible to differentiate.
The pair had a good sense of offbeat humor in their drawings and paintings, often depicting anglers young and old misbehaving or suffering a whole host of mishaps. If you can remember a scene depicting the sale of some trout by a worm-fishing boy to a skunked older fly fisherman, it was probably a Hintermeister.
Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.