Artist. Born the son of Josephine Elizabeth Lovett and Charles DeWolf Gibson, a wealthy amateur artist. He learned silhouette cutting from his father at an early age, and was selling them by the age of twelve. At age fourteen, he briefly studied sculpture under August Saint-Gaudens. In 1883 he attended the Art Students League School in Manhattan, but due to financial hardships, he left after two years, and marketed himself as a freelance artist. In 1890 he created a drawing that was meant to “represent the American Girl to all the world.” The Gibson Girl became a craze, catapulting Gibson into fame and to the head of the social register. Merchandising of the Gibson Girl included publications of collected drawings, china plates, saucers, ashtrays, tablecloths, pillow covers, chair covers, souvenir spoons, screens, fans, umbrella stands, wallpaper as well as for commercial advertisements. Magazines wrangled for exclusive rights to his drawings, making headlines and a great deal of money for Gibson. Receiving the highest pay of any illustrator of the era, “Harper's Weekly” paid him $50,000 in a year's contract to draw a two-page illustration in the center of every edition. Another of his illustrations was the character of “Mr. Pipp,” which went from pen and paper to a silent movie in 1914. He became the editor in for “Life” magazine in 1918. Post World War I, however, saw the beginning of the end of the twenty-year popularity of the “Gibson Girl,” as the flapper became paramount. By 1920, he had purchased the magazine, but with the start of the Great Depression and falling stock prices, he sold it by 1932. By his retirement, his illustrations had been in publications for thirty years. After the “Gibson Girl” faded, he switched from his usual pen and paper to oil and canvas. The American Academy of Arts and Letters exhibited his works with much success. In the autumn of 1944, he suffered a heart attack while at his residence on Seven Hundred Acre Island off the southern coast of Maine. At the request of the US President, a Navy seaplane evacuated him from the island, taking him to a New York City hospital where he succumbed a few weeks later. His illustrations appeared in “London” from 1895 to 1897, “People of Dickens” in 1897, and “Sketches in Egypt” in 1899. His satirical drawings of political and high society members were included in “The Education of Mr. Pipp” in 1899, “Americans” in 1900, “A Widow and Her Friends” in 1901, “The Social Ladder” in 1902, and “Our Neighbors” in 1905. Edmund Vincent Gillon's “The Gibson Girl and Her America: The Best Drawings of Charles Dana Gibson” was published in 1969.
Bio by: Iola
Irene Langhorne Gibson