Media File
Penrhyn Stanlaws
Date: American painter, 1877–1957
Biography: A son of amateur painters and brother of artist/illustrator Sydney Adamson and Hollywood screenwriter Ewart Anderson, Arthur Earnest Penrhyn Stanley Adamson was born in Scotland. Upon beginning his career, he changed his name to avoid confusion with Sydney Adamson. He emigrated to the US in 1893 when he was 15 or 16 years old in 1893. Within the year, he was on the staff of The Chicago Record, making sketches under well-known cartoonsts John T. McCutcheon and George Ade. Throughout 1890s, he was back and forth between the US and London, illustrating for British magazines, especially The Idler, and making theatrical contacts. H would later write plays himself and direct Hollywood movies (some of his models were early film actresses).

In 1896 Stanlaws returned to the United States and sold drawings to Life, for which he would ultimately produce at least one cover a year for several years.

By 1897, Stanlaws joined the ranks of the “pretty girl” illustrators, those icons of American beauty that sold magazines beginning with Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl" in 1890 in Life. Howard Chandler Christy's "Christy Girl" and Harrison Fisher's "Fisher Girl" followed in 1895 and 1898.

In 1897, The Book Buyer for July published “Sundry ‘American Girls’ in Black-and-White”, noting that "…There is, for instance, the Stanlaws girl. .. developed gradually, and not until some six months ago did she appear in her greatest efflorescence. She appeared, for a time, in our periodicals, charming us with her wonderful hats, her arabesques cloaks, her gowns as wide-skirted as the horizon itself…"

By 1899, the “Stanlaws Face” was reported in many newspapers. In the first half of 1899, Stanlaws produced for the color section of the Philadelphia Inquirer at least five full-page drawings. An advertisement described them as “A beautiful full page of brilliant color by that well known artist, Penrhyn Stanlaws.”

Stanlaws enrolled in Princeton University in the fall of 1899 for a two-year course in English, where he was elected advisory editor of The Princeton Tiger. While at Princeton, Stanlaws continued to produce illustrations for various publications.

Around 1903, Stanlaws moved to London, where he was ranked among leading illustration artists. For example, The London Magazine for February 1903 included “'The American Girl': As created and delineated by leading artists of the United States: Charles Dana Gibson, Harrison Fisher, Henry Hutt, W. T. Smedley, Albert Wenzell, Walter Appleton Clarke, Penrhyn Stanlaws".

In 1904, Stanlaws studied at the Academie Julian in Paris, and in the same year The Strand Magazine published “Artists: Types of Beauty”, listing Botticelli, Rubens, several Pre-Raphaelites, Charles Dana Gibson. and Stanlaws. From 1904-1912 Stanlaws was engaged in book illustration. He returned to the US in 1906.

In 1912, “Masterpieces of American Illustrators”, ten profiles presented in numerous newspapers featured Stanlaws. A year later, he created the first of 37 Saturday Evening Post covers. By 1914, Stanlaws was routinely covered as a celebrity illustrator in articles with titles such as Artist’s Recipes for Making their Beauties, and in stories featuring illustrators and their models.

In 1915, Stanlaws, who lived in one of four studio buildings on West 67th St., organized a syndicate to build another such building, taking the address 1 West 67th Street and the name Hotel des Artistes. By 1917, the Hotel housed visual and musical artists and film executives, and inlcuded other professionals as well.

It was reported in 1920 that Stanlaws had signed a contract to write and direct motion pictures for the Famous Players-Lasky Coporation. At the time, his younger brother Eward Adamson was working in Los Angeles. The brothers collaborated on one movie, Singed Wings (1922). Stanlaws' Hollywood career lasted about three years.

In the 1920s, Stanlaws sometimes adapted the fadeaway motif made popular by Coles Phillips. During the 1930s, he worked from his studio at 136 West 65th St. In 1938, he was on the staff of the Commercial Illustration School in the Flatiron Building.

Stanlaws died in 1957, a victim of a house fire in California.