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The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ISSUE 0602
St. John with the Tarzan and the Golden Lion painting

Information on the artist's early life and career
by Arthur B. Estes

James Allen St. John was born in 1872, the son of Josephus Allen St. John and the former Susan Hely - the daughter of Hilliard and Mary (Vowell) Hely of Johnstown, Ireland. The Helys were artists of excellence. J. Allen St. John's grandparents on his father's side of the family were Levi and Sarah Triphena (Barber) St. John. Levi and his brother, Samuel, crossed the country by wagon from Vermont, passing through the "Hamlet of Chicago," and with their families became the first white settlers in Rock County, Wisconsin.

Self Portrait

Mr. J. Allen St. John is one of the youngest of American portrait painters whose work has been accorded recognition by the Society of American Artists, at whose recent exhibitions he has shown a number of interesting portraits. During the last spring opening he exhibited a notable portrait of his uncle, and the year previous a strikingly original portrait of a young artist, one of his colleagues. Both of these works showed a correctness and freedom of drawing above the ordinary, and a certain nervous quality of coloring and pose that stamped the painter as one willing to depart from the beaten tracks. IN fact, his most ambitious and just completed canvas -- a full-length painting of Caroline Miskel Hoyt -- fully justifies the high opinion held of him by those who have followed his career.

Mr. St. John has been under the direct influence of no special teacher, although he has been a pupil and is now a member of the Art Students' League. He speaks frankly of his ideas on all subjects pertaining to his art. "Portrait painting," he remarked, after speaking of his early exhibits of landscapes, "appeals to me as one of the highest branches of the painter's craft. So commonplace when stiffly and uninterestingly treated, but, on the other hand, presenting infinite possibilities  when the idea of making it a work of art holds equal place with that of truthfully rendering the features. For instance, one should look at a portrait as something not merely a likeness or photographic copy of the face alone, but a thing that is the sitter himself, his personality, to the tips of his fingers, the wrinkle of his clothes; and the artist should draw all these in so broad and sympathetic a way that those who do not know the person may yet find pleasure in the counterfeit, the lighting and the harmony of colors. I have painted many portraits of widely different types, striving always for these points, and to-day I am completely fascinated by the exquisite pleasure of studying human nature and transferring it to canvas."

Mr. St. John began his art studies at a very early age. He says, in speaking of his childhood: "My first recollections are my mother's studio, and the eyes of her portraits following me about the place."

His mother's father was Hilliard Hely, an artist of considerable talent who had spent his student life in Paris under the supervision of the worthy masters of those old days of the First Empire. His daughter received her first lessons from him, and later on Mrs. St. John went to Paris to continue her studies, taking the boy with her. "Even as a child," said Mr. St. John, "I found delight in the society of so-called bohemians my mother gathered around her, and one of my greatest pleasures was to ramble at will through the Louvre, the Luxembourg and the countless quaint and charming corners of the unfashionable parts of the city, so dear to all dreamers. But I unconsciously imitated those with whom I was brought in contact, and began to sketch and paint before I could read and write."

Mr. St. John returned to America after some years of this idle, joyous life, and after going through the usual course of schooling his father took him in hand when he reached the age of sixteen and decided to give him the chance of becoming a good, thrifty merchant. He bought him a partnership with a man of practical experience; but the dreamy boy was ill-adapted to the work and rebelled so vigorously that his father sent him, as a last resource, to his uncle's ranch in the San Joaquin valley of California, with the injunction to regain his health, to ride and to shoot, and to become a cowboy, pure and simple, for a time at least.

The lad's mind was still on the happy days of Paris and his early attempts at sketching, when he was suddenly brought into the picturesque scenery and environment of Southern California. While on a trip to Los Angeles he had the good fortune to fall under the influence of Mr. Eugene Torrey, an accomplished artist, and at one time a student in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This meeting decided the career of the young man. He threw all other prearranged plans to the winds and spent the next three years studying under his artist friend. He travelled with him from place to place, drawing and painting the old Spanish missions, and seeking inspiration form the glories of the Yosemite and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Madre. Dating from this time Mr. St. John has advanced steadily.

St. John in the Amercan Academy of Art in his later yearsJ. Allen St. John and Vern Coriell

BORN: October 1, 1872 Chicago
DIED: May 23, 1957 Chicago
MARRIED: November 11, 1905 to Ellen M. Munger, Chicago
whom he met learning to type at secretarial school

Public schools of New York City
Belgium; France
1892-1896 Art Students League
with James Carroll Beckwith, William Merritt Chase, Siddons Mowbray and Frank DuMond
Académie Julian, Jean Paul Laurens

1872-1883 Chicago
1883- 1887 New York City
1887-1891 Los Angeles, CA
1891-1904 New York City
1904-1908 Chicago
1908-1910 Paris
1910-1957 Chicago

1908 Honorable Mention, Society International, Toulouse, France
1918 Liberty Loan poster competition award
1926 (Mar.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association
1926 (Nov.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association
1930 (Dec.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association

American Watercolor Society annual 1898, 1901, 1902
Art Institute of Chicago, American Watercolors 1904, 1910, 1914, 1916-1918, 1920
Art Institute of Chicago, American Annual 1908, 1911
Art Institute, Chicago & Vicinity 1910-1912, 1916-1922, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931
Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors 1927
Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, Home Planning building, A Century of Progress 1933
National Academy of Design annual 1897, 1898, 1902
Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, Illinois State Building 1915
Paris Salon
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual 1898, 1909, 1920
Salmagundi Club, New York City

1927 Business Men's Art Association, Chicago
1937 American Academy of Art

Reference: The Illinois Historical Art Project


Amazing Stories, April 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, August 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, December 1942 (1942)
Amazing Stories, February 1943 (1943)
Amazing Stories, January 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, January 1943 (1943)
Amazing Stories, January 1949 (1949)
Amazing Stories, July 1942 (1942)
Amazing Stories, June 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, March 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, March 1944 (1944)
Amazing Stories, May 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, October 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, April 1944 (1944)
Fantastic Adventures, July 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, July 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, March 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, March 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, November 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, November 1946 (1946)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1940 (1940)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1944 (1944)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1945 (1945)
Weird Tales, April 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, December 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, December 1936 (1936)
Weird Tales, February 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, January 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, June 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, May 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, November 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, October 1936 (1936)

Colour Gallery

Old Faithful from the Hernstadt Collection
Old Faithful
An early landscape oil ~ 16" x 24"
 circa 1900 (marked Dec. 1888 on the stretcher)
From the Judith Hernstadt Collection
Ms. Hernstadt invites comments and background information about this painting
as she is researching St. John's early years

Ancient Rites of Pan: Fate Magazine September 1950 ~ also House of Greystoke printApe Man and Mate: House of GreystokeAt the Earth's Core colouredTarzan and Jad-bal-ja the Golden LionGolden Blood: Jack Williamson cover - first appearance in Weird Tales April 1933The Girl in the Swing: Woman's World cover: July 1912The Face in the PoolTarzan the UntamedThe Orphan: Clarence Mulford book DJRe-Creation of Brian Kent DJ - Harold Bell WrightIt's A Small World: Amazing March 1944 ~ Richardson BibliographyPort of Peril: Otis Adelbert Kline book DJKing ArthurPrincess Estrella from The Face in the PoolChild Life Magazine Aug. 1937, published by Rand McNally & Co.J. Allen St. John: Minidoka - interiors by ERB and Michael Kaluta
Cuddy's Baby book illustrationMystic Magazine cover: November 1953: Father Time and the New YearThe Hun - His Mark: 1918 WWII Poster
DJ Black Pearl Murders by Madelaine Sharpe Buchanan: McClurg 1930DJ and FP: The Rough Rider by Robert Ames Bennet: McClurg 1925DJ: The Man Who Mastered Time by Ray Cummings: McClurg 1929

Nov. 1932 Weird Tales cover
and a composite detail from the same image, made for a fanzine article
on Grandon of Venus that was never completed. (From the Dale Broadhurst Collection)
Notice how the St. John sea serpent resembles the water dragons that
appear in JCB's John Carter Sunday pages

Edgar Rice Burroughs portrait by J. Allen St. John

St. John once wrote to ERB explaining his method for illustrating one of his books:
"First, I read over our manuscript for the pleasure it affords me and to absorb the spirit of it. A second time to make notations of such situations, as, in my opinion would lend themselves best to pictures. Then follow the "layouts" without models. They in turn are trued up for size, enlarged, and the models and other data brought into play for the finished drawings."

St. John's model for many of his Tarzan illustrations was J. P. Hubert. Hubert wrote ERB in 1934 when he heard that he was looking for an actor to portray Tarzan in The New Adventures of Tarzan, stating that

"I have been a student of physical culture and physical perfection and have posed for several of your Tarzan books for Mr. James Allen St. John. I have posed for many features and many artists in and around Chicago and consider my work outstanding posing for, or rather as, your Tarzan for Mr. St. John, your illustrator who thinks I have an outstanding physique. In 1933 I was picked from several hundred aspiring lads by the Chicago World's Fair for having the "Ideal Physique" and to pose for the figure on the Fair's commemorative medal. I landed in films upon the request of several men and worked in Cleopatra and several others, doing the "Joe Body" stuff. Now I'm at the MGM studios and keep in good condition in their gym. I am 24 years old, 6 feet in height, and weigh 192 pounds. I attended the University of Illinois and indulged in all forms of athletics."

Ref: Robert R. Barrett: Burroughs Bulletin No. 44 ~ Fall 2000

ON ERBzine
ERBzin-e 035 ERB Illustrators
ERBzin-e 105 Tarzan the Terrible Art with commentary
ERBzin-e 124 Tarzan the Untamed Art I with commentary
ERBzin-e 125 Tarzan the Untamed Art II with commentary
ERBzin-e 220 Illustrated Reference list of ERB pulp mag appearances from 1912
ERBzin-e 239  Sacred Icons of J. Allen St. John by Nkima
ERBzin-e 240 Numa's Lair with Guide our Other St. John Sites by Nkima
ERBzin-e 247 ERB The Prophet: Inventions, Innovations & Predictions with St. John's Barsoomian Gallery I
ERBzin-e 248 ERB Future Visions ~ St. John Barsoomian Gallery II ~ ERB Predictions
ERBzin-e 249 ERB The Prophet with St. John's Barsoomian Art III
ERBzin-e 272 St John Images of Amtor III
ERBzin-e 326 Lord Greystoke Gallery - Pellucidar III - Savage Pellucidar - Land of Terror
ERBzin-e 326a Lord Greystoke Gallery - Pellucidar III - Large Images
ERBzin-e 422 Frank Schoonover Gallery
ERBzin-e 431 St. John At The Earth's Core
ERBzin-e 432 Lord Greystoke's Pellucidar Gallery
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Encyclopedia
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Main Gallery
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery A
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery B
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery C
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery D
ERBzin-e 682 Illustrated Bibliography by Darrell Richardson (Burroughs Biblio-Pro-Phile)
ERBzin-e 602 St. John Early Bio and Colour Gallery I

Volume 0602

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