Mead Schaeffer

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File:Schaeffer illustration for Black Buccaneer.jpg
Mead Schaeffer illustration for The Black Buccaneer by Stephen Meader, published in 1920

Mead Schaeffer (July 15, 1898 – November 6, 1980) was an American illustrator active from the early to middle twentieth century.

Schaeffer was born in Freedom Plains, New York, in 1898, the son of Presbyterian preacher Charles Schaeffer and his wife Minnie. He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. After completing high school, he enrolled in the Pratt Institute in 1916. At Pratt his teachers included Harvey Dunn and Charles Chapman. Dunn critiqued many of Schaeffer's early projects. While a student at Pratt, Schaeffer illustrated the first of seven 'Golden Boy' books written by L. P. Wyman.[1][2] Mead was married in 1921. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were to be the parents of two daughters.[2]

In 1922, at age 24, he was hired to illustrate a series of classic novels for publisher Dodd Mead. His work for Dodd Mead continued until 1930. The books that he illustrated during this period included Moby Dick,[3] Typee, and Omoo by Herman Melville; The Count of Monte Cristo; and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.[1]

In 1930, Schaeffer turned his attention from fictional characters to real people depicted in real settings. During the 1930s and 1940s he received commissions from magazines including Good Housekeeping, McCall's, the Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies Home Journal, Country Gentleman, and Cosmopolitan.[1] He produced 46 covers for the weekly Saturday Evening Post. His work as a war correspondent for the Post during World War II resulted in a well-known series of covers illustrating American military personnel.[2][4][5]

He lived for a time in New Rochelle, New York,[6] but for most of his career lived in Arlington, Vermont, where his studio was in a barn.[2] Norman Rockwell was a good friend, and Schaeffer and his family often posed as models for Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post illustrations and paintings.[1]

In retirement, Schaeffer lived in Vermont, where Rockwell was a neighbor.[1] Schaeffer suffered a heart attack and died in New York City on November 6, 1980.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Mead Schaeffer: American Imagist". National Museum of American Illustration. Retrieved 14 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Mead Schaeffer (1898-1980)". Curtis Publishing. Retrieved 14 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Books and Authors". The New York Times. September 3, 1922. Retrieved 2009-07-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Diana Denny (July 6, 2012). "Mead Schaeffer: The Stories Behind the Covers".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Obituary: Mead Schaeffer". The New York Times. November 10, 1980. Retrieved 2009-07-11. Mead Schaeffer, a book illustrator and painter of many covers for The Saturday Evening Post, died Thursday of a heart attack ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Toast of the Town: Norman Rockwell and the Artists of New Rochelle, originally published in 2002 in Resource Library Magazine, published online by Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. (Arizona), retrieved 14 September 2012.