Joseph Francis Kernan (1878-1958)ARTIST GALLERY
American illustrator J. F. Kernan (1878-1958) specialized in images of middle-class life for the covers and pages of popular magazines from the 1910s to 1940s. His nostalgic and often humorous illustrations celebrate the simple comforts of home, family, and outdoor recreation.
Born in Brookline, MA, Joseph Francis Kernan attended the Eric Pape School of Art in Boston and later taught at the school before embarking on his art career. Kernan became an well-known artist whose credits include twenty-six covers of The Saturday Evening Post between the years 1924-1936. Kernan was 45 years old when his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post appeared on May 31, 1924; depicting an old sailor, with a parrot on his shoulder, working on a model ship while a young sailor looks on.
An athlete outdoorsman himself (he played professional baseball to help finance his art education), Kernan would frequently incorporate those themes into his works, specializing in outdoor subjects such as hunting and fishing. His art featured, as he described it, “the human side of outdoor sports, hunting, fishing and dogs.” His works soon graced the covers of nearly every major magazine during the 1920’s/1930’s including The Saturday Evening Post, The Country Gentleman, Outdoor Life, Collier’s Liberty, Capper’s Farmer, The Elks, and the Associated Sunday Magazines. His work was also featured on calendars and advertisements of the period.
Kernan holds the distinction of having painted the only Saturday Evening Post cover honoring the Olympic Games entitled “The Sprinter” which appeared on August 8, 1936. As his final Post cover, it was a fitting finish because so much of his life’s work commemorated sportsman and outdoor life.
Joseph Francis Kernan died in 1958.