A deftly rendered, intricate, highly decorative oil on canvas painting by noted Brandywine School illustrator Arthur E. Becher, a student of Howard Pyle. An East Indian minstrel performs magic feats to the delight of his adoring harem in this orientalist Golden Age of Illustration depiction. Becher’s work appeared in numerous magazine titles after the turn of the last century; Scribner’s and Leslie’s most notably. He also created full color bookplates for such titles as “Long Live the King” and an 1914 adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” by P.F. Collier & Sons.
Painting retains original handsome ornate American Arts & Crafts ornate frame. From the legendary Charles Martignette estate.
Arthur Ernst Becher (Beecher), 1877-1960, was an illustrator of books and magazines and fine-art painter known for rural New York landscapes and historical scenes including Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. His specialty was horses.
He was born in Freiburg, Germany and trained in Munich and with Howard Pyle at the Brandywine School. In 1959, six of his early paintings were purchased by the Common Council of Milwaukee where Becher migrated with his parents at age eight.
He took early training from F.W. Heine and Robert Schade, and also painted at Jones Island, a fishing village near Milwaukee. In 1902, he became a student of illustrator Howard Pyle at Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania. Two years later he married Frieda Knappe from Milwaukee, and the couple settled in Ardsley, New York. In 1917, they added a 125 acre farm in Putnam County, New York.
Becher became a magazine illustrator whose clients included Scribner’s, Leslie’s, and Appleton’s. In 1908, on assignment he went to Europe and studied, likely as a private student, in Germany with Otto Strutzel, known for landscape and animal painting.
In 1911, he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy.
During the 1930s, his illustration efforts turned to books from magazines. He also painted in Arizona during 1931 and 1939.
The Delaware Art Museum has several paintings by Becher in their collection. His work was included in the 1996 exhibition N.C. Wyeth and the Brandywine School American Illustrators from the Golden Age of Illustration (1880-1960), at the American Illustrators Gallery / Judy Goffman Fine Art.
Becher was a member of the Society of Illustrators.