Harvey Dunn (1884-1952)

Born on a homestead near Manchester, South Dakota, Harvey Dunn left the farm to study at the South Dakota Agricultural College and the Art Institute of Chicago before becoming one of Howard Pyle’s most accomplished students—along with N.C. Wyeth and Frank E. Schoonover—and eventually opened his own studios in Wilmington, Delaware, and in Leonia and Tenfly, New Jersey.

In 1906, Dunn obtained his first advertising commission from the Keuffel and Esser Company of New York, and throughout his prodigious career, he created painterly illustrations for the leading magazines of the day.

Dunn was one of eight war artists assigned to the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. He struggled emotionally as a result of his wartime experiences, but found solace in painting visions of the prairie, inspired by his boyhood memories and love of South Dakota’s landscape and history.

In 1914 following Howard Pyle’s death in 1911, Dunn moved from Wilmington to Leonia, New Jersey, which provided close access to his publishers in New York City. The following year, he founded the Leonia School of Illustration with artist Charles S. Chapman, explaining his unique mission: “Art schools teach complexities, while I teach simplicities. The only purpose in my being here is to get [students] to think pictorially.”

He went on to teach at the Grand Central School of Art, Pratt Institute, and the Art Students League, inspiring many of the twentieth century’s most influential visual communicators.

Harvey Dunn in His Studio, n.d.
Photographer Unknown
South Dakota Art Museum