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ISSUE 0602
St. John with the Tarzan and the Golden Lion painting


J. Allen St. John Illustrations for ERB Novels
ERBzine 6383
Tarzan Covers
ERBzine 6384
Other World Covers
ERBzine 6385
Fantastic World Covers
ERBzine 6386
Pulp Art
ERBzine 6387
Interior Art I: RT BT
ERBzine 6379
Interior Art II: ST
ERBzine 6380
Interior Art III: Opar
ERBzine C.H.A.S.E.R.
Biblios for All Titles

Information on the artist's early life and career
by Arthur B. Estes

James Allen St. John was born in 1872, the son of Josephus Allen St. John and the former Susan Hely - the daughter of Hilliard and Mary (Vowell) Hely of Johnstown, Ireland. The Helys were artists of excellence. J. Allen St. John's grandparents on his father's side of the family were Levi and Sarah Triphena (Barber) St. John. Levi and his brother, Samuel, crossed the country by wagon from Vermont, passing through the "Hamlet of Chicago," and with their families became the first white settlers in Rock County, Wisconsin.

Mr. J. Allen St. John is one of the youngest of American portrait painters whose work has been accorded recognition by the Society of American Artists, at whose recent exhibitions he has shown a number of interesting portraits. During the last spring opening he exhibited a notable portrait of his uncle, and the year previous a strikingly original portrait of a young artist, one of his colleagues. Both of these works showed a correctness and freedom of drawing above the ordinary, and a certain nervous quality of coloring and pose that stamped the painter as one willing to depart from the beaten tracks. IN fact, his most ambitious and just completed canvas -- a full-length painting of Caroline Miskel Hoyt -- fully justifies the high opinion held of him by those who have followed his career.

Mr. St. John has been under the direct influence of no special teacher, although he has been a pupil and is now a member of the Art Students' League. He speaks frankly of his ideas on all subjects pertaining to his art. "Portrait painting," he remarked, after speaking of his early exhibits of landscapes, "appeals to me as one of the highest branches of the painter's craft. So commonplace when stiffly and uninterestingly treated, but, on the other hand, presenting infinite possibilities  when the idea of making it a work of art holds equal place with that of truthfully rendering the features. For instance, one should look at a portrait as something not merely a likeness or photographic copy of the face alone, but a thing that is the sitter himself, his personality, to the tips of his fingers, the wrinkle of his clothes; and the artist should draw all these in so broad and sympathetic a way that those who do not know the person may yet find pleasure in the counterfeit, the lighting and the harmony of colors. I have painted many portraits of widely different types, striving always for these points, and to-day I am completely fascinated by the exquisite pleasure of studying human nature and transferring it to canvas."

Mr. St. John began his art studies at a very early age. He says, in speaking of his childhood: "My first recollections are my mother's studio, and the eyes of her portraits following me about the place."

His mother's father was Hilliard Hely, an artist of considerable talent who had spent his student life in Paris under the supervision of the worthy masters of those old days of the First Empire. His daughter received her first lessons from him, and later on Mrs. St. John went to Paris to continue her studies, taking the boy with her. "Even as a child," said Mr. St. John, "I found delight in the society of so-called bohemians my mother gathered around her, and one of my greatest pleasures was to ramble at will through the Louvre, the Luxembourg and the countless quaint and charming corners of the unfashionable parts of the city, so dear to all dreamers. But I unconsciously imitated those with whom I was brought in contact, and began to sketch and paint before I could read and write."

Mr. St. John returned to America after some years of this idle, joyous life, and after going through the usual course of schooling his father took him in hand when he reached the age of sixteen and decided to give him the chance of becoming a good, thrifty merchant. He bought him a partnership with a man of practical experience; but the dreamy boy was ill-adapted to the work and rebelled so vigorously that his father sent him, as a last resource, to his uncle's ranch in the San Joaquin valley of California, with the injunction to regain his health, to ride and to shoot, and to become a cowboy, pure and simple, for a time at least.

The lad's mind was still on the happy days of Paris and his early attempts at sketching, when he was suddenly brought into the picturesque scenery and environment of Southern California. While on a trip to Los Angeles he had the good fortune to fall under the influence of Mr. Eugene Torrey, an accomplished artist, and at one time a student in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This meeting decided the career of the young man. He threw all other prearranged plans to the winds and spent the next three years studying under his artist friend. He travelled with him from place to place, drawing and painting the old Spanish missions, and seeking inspiration form the glories of the Yosemite and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Madre. Dating from this time Mr. St. John has advanced steadily.

J. Allen St. John

James Allen St. John was born October 1, 1872 in Chicago. His friends called him "Jim St. John." His father, Dr. Jospehus Allen St. John, was born 1831 in East Hubbarston, Vermont. The St. John family moved to Janesville, Wisconsin in 1837, where they were among the first settlers in the region. They worked a family farm and eventually sent their son Josephus to college, where he studied Allopathic Medicine and became a physician. The artist's mother, Susan Hely, was born 1834 in Ireland. Her father Hilliard Hely (1800-1858) had been a portrait painter and graduate of Dublin's Trinity College. In 1937 her family moved to America and also settled in Janesville, Wisconsin, where they also worked a family farm. In his spare time Susan Hely's father painted portraits and taught his daughter to paint, but she yearned for academic art training.

In 1859 her older brother, George Hely, married Eliza St. John, the older sister of Josephus St. John. That same year Susan and Josephus also married. By 1870 they had moved to Chicago and lived at 311 22nd Street, where Josephus had a private medical practice and Susan attended the Art Institute of Chicago.

The artist's mother was a free spirit. She loved art school and enjoyed the company of Bohemians. She invited two women artists to board at their home. According to the artist, "My first recollections are of my mother's art studio and the magic way the eyes of her portraits followed me as I walked about the place."

In 1880 his mother left his father and moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She brought her eight-year-old son. They lived in Europe for three years, where visits to the great museums made him want to become a painter.

In 1883 at the age of eleven he and his mother returned to America. She decided to continue her studies at the National Academy of Design in New York City, so his supportive father closed up shop in Chicago and moved to a Manhattan townhouse at 231 West 69th Street, where he opened a new medical practice and their son attended public school.

By 1877 his mother completed her training and opened her own portrait studio in the family home.

In 1888 James Allen St. John quit school after completing the eight grade. At that time this was the most common practice. Although he was privileged to attend prep school and ivy league college, he preferred to become an artist. He did not want to enter the work force and he rejected his father's offer to finance his own trading company.

In 1888 at the age of sixteen he left NYC and moved to California to live with his wealthy uncle George Hely, Aunt Eliza St. John Hely, and his three cousins, James, Guy, and Levi St. John Hely, on their two-thousand acre grain and livestock ranch in San Joaquin Valley of Southern California. There he painted landscapes and studied with Eugene Torrey (1862-1930), an acquaintance of his mother's from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, who was based in Los Angeles as a landscape painter.

In 1891 at the age of nineteen he returned to NYC to live with his parents and study with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) at the Art Students league.

His first published illustrations were for The New York Herald in 1898, where he continued to work for several years. This exposure led to illustrating several novels.

In 1901 his parents moved back to Chicago, so he remained in NYC and opened his own art studio at 393 Eighth Avenue, near 30th Street, just two blocks south of Pennsylvania Station.

By 1902 at age thirty he was an established illustrator, landscape painter, and portrait artist in NYC.

In 1903 his father became ill, so he closed his art studio and moved back to Chicago to live with his parents and help his mother care for his father.

On April 19, 1904 his father died in Chicago at the age of seventy-two.

He began to work as a commercial artist for publishers in the Chicago mid-western region. He illustrated books, newspapers and magazines. In 1904 he illustrated The Face in the Pool for A. C. McClurg Company of Chicago, which led to his important association with this publisher.

He met Ellen May Munger while learning to type at a secretarial school. She was born July 21, 1884 in Illinois. They married on November 11, 1905.

In 1908 at the age of 36 he returned to Paris, France, with his wife, where he studied for two year at the Academie Julian.

In 1910 he and his wife returned to Chicago and lived with his widowed mother. On October 25, 1913 Susan Hely St. John died at the age of seventy-nine.

In 1913 he and his wife moved to 3 East Ontario Street in Chicago. This remarkable three-story building, known as "The Tree Studio," was designed with living and working areas for resident artists. The St. John's lived on the ground floor, which also included a picturesque private garden.

In 1915 he illustrated chapter headings for The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs for McClurg Publishing. The dust-jacket was painted by N. C. Wyeth. In 1916 he drew the story illustrations as well as the dust-jacket cover for The Beasts of Tarzan. This was the first of many painted covers for Tarzan books, for which the artist is most renowned.

In 1917 he began to teach Painting and Illustration classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. He continued to teach for the rest of his life.

In 1917 at the age of forty-six he was too old to serve in The Great War. He produced several patriotic posters for recruitment and Liberty Bonds to support the war effort.

In the 1920s he illustrated stories for many of the top magazines, such as Colliers, The Rotarian, and Liberty. He also painted covers for The Green Book, The Red Book and Blue Book.

In 1928 he taught a painting class at the Businessmen's Art Association in Chicago, which was a private club for professional artists that worked for newspapers and advertising, but wanted to hone their skills, work from nude models, and enjoy weekend outings to paint landscapes and socialize with other professional artists.

During the years of the Great Depression he worked for Boy's World, Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Magic Carpet and Weird Tales.

In 1942 at the age of seventy he was too old for draft registration during WWII.

In the 1940s and the 1950s he worked for Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Fate, Other Worlds, and Mystic Magazine.

In the 1950s he taught Life Class and Illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

J. Allen St. John died at age eighty-four in Chicago on May 23, 1957.

St. John in the Amercan Academy of Art in his later years
St. John in the Amercan Academy of Art
in his later years
J. Allen St. John and Vern Coriell
J. Allen St. John 
and Vern Coriell


BORN: October 1, 1872 Chicago
DIED: May 23, 1957 Chicago
MARRIED: November 11, 1905 to Ellen M. Munger, Chicago
whom he met learning to type at secretarial school

Public schools of New York City
Belgium; France
1892-1896 Art Students League
with James Carroll Beckwith, William Merritt Chase, Siddons Mowbray and Frank DuMond
Académie Julian, Jean Paul Laurens

1872-1883 Chicago
1883- 1887 New York City
1887-1891 Los Angeles, CA
1891-1904 New York City
1904-1908 Chicago
1908-1910 Paris
1910-1957 Chicago

1908 Honorable Mention, Society International, Toulouse, France
1918 Liberty Loan poster competition award
1926 (Mar.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association
1926 (Nov.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association
1930 (Dec.) Sixth Purchase Prize, Chicago Galleries Association

American Watercolor Society annual 1898, 1901, 1902
Art Institute of Chicago, American Watercolors 1904, 1910, 1914, 1916-1918, 1920
Art Institute of Chicago, American Annual 1908, 1911
Art Institute, Chicago & Vicinity 1910-1912, 1916-1922, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931
Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors 1927
Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, Home Planning building, A Century of Progress 1933
National Academy of Design annual 1897, 1898, 1902
Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, Illinois State Building 1915
Paris Salon
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual 1898, 1909, 1920
Salmagundi Club, New York City

1927 Business Men's Art Association, Chicago
1937 American Academy of Art

Reference: The Illinois Historical Art Project

Amazing Stories, April 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, August 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, December 1942 (1942)
Amazing Stories, February 1943 (1943)
Amazing Stories, January 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, January 1943 (1943)
Amazing Stories, January 1949 (1949)
Amazing Stories, July 1942 (1942)
Amazing Stories, June 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, March 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, March 1944 (1944)
Amazing Stories, May 1941 (1941)
Amazing Stories, October 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, April 1944 (1944)
Fantastic Adventures, July 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, July 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, March 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, March 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, November 1941 (1941)
Fantastic Adventures, November 1946 (1946)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1940 (1940)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1942 (1942)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1944 (1944)
Fantastic Adventures, October 1945 (1945)
Weird Tales, April 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, December 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, December 1936 (1936)
Weird Tales, February 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, January 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, June 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, May 1933 (1933)
Weird Tales, November 1932 (1932)
Weird Tales, October 1936 (1936)

Colour Gallery

Old Faithful from the Hernstadt Collection
Old Faithful
An early landscape oil ~ 16" x 24"
 circa 1900 (marked Dec. 1888 on the stretcher)
From the Judith Hernstadt Collection
Ms. Hernstadt invites comments and background information about this painting
as she is researching St. John's early years

Ancient Rites of Pan: Fate Magazine September 1950 ~ also House of Greystoke printApe Man and Mate: House of GreystokeAt the Earth's Core colouredTarzan and Jad-bal-ja the Golden LionGolden Blood: Jack Williamson cover - first appearance in Weird Tales April 1933The Girl in the Swing: Woman's World cover: July 1912The Face in the PoolTarzan the UntamedThe Orphan: Clarence Mulford book DJRe-Creation of Brian Kent DJ - Harold Bell WrightIt's A Small World: Amazing March 1944 ~ Richardson BibliographyPort of Peril: Otis Adelbert Kline book DJKing ArthurPrincess Estrella from The Face in the PoolChild Life Magazine Aug. 1937, published by Rand McNally & Co.J. Allen St. John: Minidoka - interiors by ERB and Michael Kaluta
Cuddy's Baby book illustrationMystic Magazine cover: November 1953: Father Time and the New YearThe Hun - His Mark: 1918 WWII Poster
DJ Black Pearl Murders by Madelaine Sharpe Buchanan: McClurg 1930DJ and FP: The Rough Rider by Robert Ames Bennet: McClurg 1925DJ: The Man Who Mastered Time by Ray Cummings: McClurg 1929
Other Worlds - November 1955
Nov. 1932 Weird Tales ~ Nov. 1955 Other Worlds
and a composite detail from the Nov. 1932 image, made for a fanzine article
on Grandon of Venus that was never completed. (From the Dale Broadhurst Collection)
Notice how the St. John sea serpent resembles the water dragons that
appear in JCB's John Carter Sunday pages

Edgar Rice Burroughs portrait by J. Allen St. John

St. John once wrote to ERB explaining his method for illustrating one of his books:
"First, I read over our manuscript for the pleasure it affords me and to absorb the spirit of it. A second time to make notations of such situations, as, in my opinion would lend themselves best to pictures. Then follow the "layouts" without models. They in turn are trued up for size, enlarged, and the models and other data brought into play for the finished drawings."

St. John's model for many of his Tarzan illustrations was J. P. Hubert. Hubert wrote ERB in 1934 when he heard that he was looking for an actor to portray Tarzan in The New Adventures of Tarzan, stating that

"I have been a student of physical culture and physical perfection and have posed for several of your Tarzan books for Mr. James Allen St. John. I have posed for many features and many artists in and around Chicago and consider my work outstanding posing for, or rather as, your Tarzan for Mr. St. John, your illustrator who thinks I have an outstanding physique. In 1933 I was picked from several hundred aspiring lads by the Chicago World's Fair for having the "Ideal Physique" and to pose for the figure on the Fair's commemorative medal. I landed in films upon the request of several men and worked in Cleopatra and several others, doing the "Joe Body" stuff. Now I'm at the MGM studios and keep in good condition in their gym. I am 24 years old, 6 feet in height, and weigh 192 pounds. I attended the University of Illinois and indulged in all forms of athletics."

Ref: Robert R. Barrett: Burroughs Bulletin No. 44 ~ Fall 2000

March 22, 1900
"Dear Mrs. Fite: Of course I accept with the greatest pleasure, and I and [caricature] will be on hand Saturday night
-~ Yours, J Allen St. John"

January 31, 1899
"My dear Mrs. Fite, I will be good (to myself) and with fresh washed hands and my hair neatly brushed,
appear at 8 gratefully for the opportunity of helping you.
~ J. Allen St. John."

ON ERBzine
The Edgar Rice Burroughs / J. Allen St. John Connection
ERBzine 0035 ERB Illustrators
ERBzine 0105 Tarzan the Terrible Art with commentary
ERBzine 0124 Tarzan the Untamed Art I with commentary
ERBzine 0125 Tarzan the Untamed Art II with commentary
ERBzine 0220 Illustrated Reference list of ERB pulp mag appearances from 1912
ERBzine 0239  Sacred Icons of J. Allen St. John by Nkima
ERBzine 0240 Numa's Lair with Guide our Other St. John Sites by Nkima
ERBzine 0247 ERB The Prophet: Inventions, Innovations & Predictions with St. John's Barsoomian Gallery I
ERBzine 0248 ERB Future Visions ~ St. John Barsoomian Gallery II ~ ERB Predictions
ERBzine 0249 ERB The Prophet with St. John's Barsoomian Art III
ERBzine 0272 St John Images of Amtor III
ERBzine 0326 Lord Greystoke Gallery - Pellucidar III - Savage Pellucidar - Land of Terror
ERBzine 0326a Lord Greystoke Gallery - Pellucidar III - Large Images
ERBzine 0422 Frank Schoonover Gallery
ERBzine 0431 St. John At The Earth's Core
ERBzine 0432 Lord Greystoke's Pellucidar Gallery
ERBzine 0485 Beasts of Tarzan Interior Art I
ERBzine 0486 Beasts of Tarzan Interior Art II
ERBzine 0427 Master Mind of Mars Interior Art
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Encyclopedia
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Main Gallery
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery A
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery B
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery C
ERB Illustrated Bibliography ~ Gallery D
ERBzine 0682 Illustrated Bibliography by Darrell Richardson (Burroughs Biblio-Pro-Phile)
ERBzine 0602 St. John Early Bio and Colour Gallery I
ERBzine 0683: St. John Gallery II ~ Line Art
ERBzine 1642: St. John Gallery III
ERBzine 1641: The J. Allen St. John "Self Portrait"
ERBzine 2118: Pulp Cover Art I - Amazing
ERBzine 2119: Pulp Cover Art II - Weird and Fantastic
ERBzine 2305: Face in the Pool Art 
ERBzine 2314: Colour Art 
J. Allen St. John Illustrations for ERB Novels
ERBzine 6383
Tarzan Covers
ERBzine 6384
Other World Covers
ERBzine 6385
Fantastic World Covers
ERBzine 6386
Pulp Art
ERBzine 6387
Interior Art I: RT BT
ERBzine 6379
Interior Art II: ST
ERBzine 6380
Interior Art III: Opar
ERBzine C.H.A.S.E.R.
Biblios for All Titles

The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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ERBzine Weekly Webzine
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John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Volume 0602

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