A Political Halloween Party

Artist:Charles Verschuuren
Medium:Gouache on Illlustration Board
Dimensions:Sight Size 11" X 13" Framed 18 1/2" X 20 3/4"
Original Use:Front Cover art for The Brooklyn Eagle's Sunday Magazine
Above: Full view of gouache on board
Above: Detail

This jazz age artwork from the late fall of 1924 smartly blends Halloween season and boxing as a metaphor for the presidential election of that November. With requisite black cats and a jack-o-lantern and two pugilists dressed as a donkey and elephant respectfully, this is a dazzling topical artwork satirizing the race between incumbent Calvin Coolidge against democratic challenger John W. Davis. In this vibrant gouache, used as a cover for The Brooklyn Eagle Sunday magazine, an Uncle Sam-inspired ring girl attempts to keep the peace between the two parties. This is a spirited roaring 20s time capsule.

Above: The artist's signature

Coolidge was given credit for a booming economy at home and no visible crises abroad. He was aided by a split within the Democratic Party. The regular Democratic candidate was John W. Davis, a little-known former congressman and diplomat from West Virginia. Since Davis was a conservative, many liberal Democrats bolted the party and backed the third-party campaign of Wisconsin Senator Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., who ran as the candidate of the Progressive Party. This was the first presidential election in which all American Indians were citizens and thus allowed to vote. Coolidge's 25.2-point victory margin is the second largest ever, after Warren Harding's 26.2-point victory margin in 1920.

Above: Framed view in simple wood gallery frame

Charles Verschuuren (1891-1955) brought the 1920s and 30s spirit of New York to the covers of the Brooklyn Eagle's Sunday Magazine every week from 1924 to 1933 in a dazzling, humorous style, capturing the heart of the Jazz Age. As an immigrant from the Netherlands in 1922, Verschuuren was captivated by the soaring architecture, diversity and pace of New York. His covers focused on a cast of characters headed by the newly liberated woman and her counterpart, the male collegian. The imagery deftly incorporated these characters and the feeling of America through scenes of sports, holidays, historical events, and popular entertainment. Through Verschuuren's illustrations, Eagle readers were able to share in his wonderment and humor of urban life as he became a New Yorker.

Today's viewers continue to be enchanted by his nostalgic Art Deco iconography. Verschuurens work has been displayed both here and abroad, his posters and drawings exhibited in the collections of the Stedilijik Museum, the Netherlands Theatre Institute, and in a travelling exhibition of war images organized by the International Foundation for the Injured and Prisoners of War. In New York, his work was seen at various venues, from Columbia University, to the Independent Artists Show at Grand Central Palace, to the Maurel Gallery alongside works by Degas, Monet and Everett Shinn. While working for the U.S. Photographic Center in Long Island City, he befriended fellow New York artist Charles Addams. The editors of the Brooklyn Eagle, which Joseph Pulitzer wrote was "one of the foremost newspapers in the nation" saw in Verschuuren an amazing talent that captured the changing face of America during the Jazz Age.