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John Falter made a career of painting pictures of American life with warmth and skill and was once referred to by fellow artist, Norman Rockwell, as being "America's most gifted illustrator." Falter produced more Saturday Evening Post covers than any illustrator, except for Rockwell. But then, Falter was only six when Rockwell began his career with the magazine. Falter's career with the Saturday Evening Post began in 1943 with his first cover of Benjamin Franklin. The 185 covers that he did for The Post, while it was America's prevailing magazine, are possibly his most familiar work. However, even after the demise of the magazine in 1969, he continued to produce his detailed, warm, and human paintings. Other magazines donned the work of John Falter as well. Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, Life and Look, as well as advertising illustrations for several companies, all displayed his work. He designed more than 300 World War II recruiting posters while on active duty as a lieutenant with the Naval Reserve. Also at that time, he finished a series for Esquire magazine depicting 12 famous war heroes.
Falter studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and won a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York. He received his first commission from Liberty Magazine to do three illustrations a week in 1933. Falter was elected to the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1976. He was also a member of the National Academy of Western Art. After his death in 1982, there was an exhibit done in his honor at the opening of the State Museum of History in 1983, which included a recreation of his studio and an exhibit featuring many of his work.
The Saturday Evening Post, Winter 1973. Image courtesy Carole Graffeo.
Liberty Magazine, 1933
Advertising for Gulf Oil, Four Roses Whiskey, Arrow Shirts, and Pall Mall, 1938
Recruitment Posters for World War II, 1943
Saturday Evening Post, 1943- 1969
Good Housekeeping Magazine
3M commissioned Falter to do a series of six paintings in celebration of America’s bicentennial.
Falter also illustrated over forty books and was an excellent portrait painter, including portraits done of Clark Gable and Olivia de Haviland.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Illustrators Lecture Series, Illustrators Club House, New York, New York, 1940
Affiliations and Memberships
Illustrators Hall of Fame
The National Academy of Western Art
Education and Training
Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO
Art Students League of New York, New York, NY
Grand Central School, New York, NY
Teachers and Influences
Connection to Bucks County Community
John Falter lived on route 113, west of Kulps Corner, in a farmhouse. Falter was inspired by Pennsylvania and painted quite a few covers with Bucks County locations. One of his paintings hangs at Buckingham Trinity Church.