An action packed, Western Americana pulp cover painting by George H. Wert, which was commissioned and used by Street & Smith publishers for the July 9, 1927 edition of Western Story Magazine. A square jaw ranch-hand rustles a group of steer while casually smoking a cig, one of the classic cowboy images that inspired the Marlboro Man. Created with a unique perspective that just bursts with energy, intrigue and drama, all prerequisite emotions for the 1920s pulp artists to harness in their covers. The artist employs a heavy impasto outer technique to mimic the look (and feel) of traditional Southwestern stucco architecture. A fresh-to-the-market New York estate find from a former employee of the storied publishing company. Painting is handsomely framed and has benefited from cleaning and conservation and comes with a complete, hi-grade edition of the published magazine.
GEORGE H. WERT - Courtesy of David Saunders
George Harrison Wert was born December 9, 1888 in Brook, Indiana. by 1900 his father had become a guard at the State Prison, and the family had moved to 824 Buffalo Street in Michigan City, Indiana, which is only sixty miles East from Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan.
By 1910 George H. Wert had finished schooling. He lived at home with his parents and worked for the railroad as a "Caller," summoning train crews and announcing trains.
On December 28, 1912, at the age of twenty-four, he married his wife Vada Wert. She was twenty-two and was born on November 5, 1890. They moved to 809 South Colburn Street in Joliet Illinois, where he worked as a graphic artist for a local advertising company.
In 1915 his first child was born, Ruth W. Wert. One year later their son Harrison F. Wert was born.
On June 5, 1917 he reported to the draft board, where he was recorded to be of medium height, slender build, with blue eyes, light hair and no physical defects to disqualify him for military service, and yet he did not serve, because he was the sole support of a wife and two infant children.
In 1919 his third child was born, David Edwin Wert. At that time the family lived at 114 May Street in Joliet, IL.
In 1920 George H. Wert enlisted to the Art Institute of Chicago, to prepare for a career as an illustrator.
During the 1920s he created illustrations for Collier's and several other magazines. His work also appeared in newspapers, such as The Christian Science Monitor. From 1924 until WWII he sold interior story illustrations to many pulp magazines, such as Adventure, Ace-High, Action Stories, Cowboy Stories, Frontier Stories, Lariat Stories, North West Stories, North West Romances, The Popular Magazine, Short Stories, Star Western, 10-Story Western, and Western Story.
He is best known in connection with Nick Eggenhofer and Lorence Bjorklund as one of the top pen & ink artists in Western pulp magazines, and yet George H. Wert has the unique distinction of having also painted many pulp magazine covers for Action Novels, Action Stories, Lariat Stories, North West Stories, The Popular Magazine, Short Stories, and Western Story.
From 1941 until 1950 a pen and ink artist that was credited by the name "G. H. Wertheimer" worked for Ranger Comics, which was published by Fiction House. That is the same publisher of pulp magazines, such as Lariat Stories, where G. H. Wert was steadily employed at the same time as a pen and ink artist. It seems likely that "G. H. Wertheimer" was actually Wert's pen name.
According to family history, the artist was a rugged individualist and was hard to get along with. In his final years he was destitute, until his full-grown children took him in and provided for his welfare.
George H. Wert died in New Jersey at the age of sixty-one on April 15, 1950. His widow, Vada Wert, outlived him for twenty-four years, during which time she rarely spoke of him.