Media File
William Harnden Foster
Date: American painter and illustrator, 1886–1941
Biography: Known especially for sporting pictures, dog portraits, and images of steam engines, William Harnden Foster trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he may have studied with sporting artist Frank Benson, and with Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. His early years on the farm and sporting camp of his grandfather near Tewksbury, Massachusetts, probbly contributed to his later skill at sporting and outdoor scenes.

His first national recognition came from a series of train paintings titled “All in a Day’s Run” reproduced in Scribner’s magazine in 1910. Foster took a course at MIT on locomotive mechanics in order to ensure accuracy in his depictions. Harper's then commissioned him to write and illustrate an article on the building of the Panama Canal. In 1915, he worked aboard a livestock freighter to report on the trans- Atlantic shipment of cattle for Harper's.

These successes led to more magazine assignments and to corporate advertising, including for Oldsmobile. In 1910, Oldsmobile commissioned Foster to illustrate the luxury Oldsmobile Limited; his image titled "Setting the Pace" depicted the car racing a New York Central train and winning.

After Foster married Marion Lowd 1908, they built a summer camp in South Freeport, Maine, where they were friendly with retailer Leon L. Bean. In 1925, one of Foster's illustrations - The Moose Hunter - appeared on the cover of L.L.Bean's mail order catalogue. The painting, featuring a hunter clad in L.L. Bean gear, confronting a moose, was one of several Foster covers for the sales catalogues. Foster was also a crafter of duck skiffs and decoys, and a breeder and judge of hunting dogs.

In 1942, Foster's book New England Grouse Shooting was published shortly after his death in 1941. He wrote the text, now considered a standard for the field, and provided pen-and-ink illustrations.