Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: C.J. Taylor

Charles Jay Taylor was born in New York, New York, on August 11, 1855, according to Who’s Who in New York City and State (1907) and Who’s Who in America (1911). However, Herringshaw’s American Blue-Book of Biography (1914) has the birth year 1865. A profile in the St. Landry Democrat (Opelousas, Louisiana), June 4, 1887, had 1851 as the birth year. And Taylor’s birth year was 1858 on his death certificate.

Taylor has not yet been found in the 1860 to 1900 U.S. Federal Censuses. Who’s Who in New York City and State said Taylor’s parents were Charles John Jay and Margaret. Who’s Who in America had the names as Charles John and Elizabeth (MacDonald), and said Taylor attended New York public schools. Taylor was listed as an artist, at 1004 Fourth Avenue, in Trow’s New York City Directory, 1881.

Taylor’s higher education, art training and employment, as of 1887, were told in the St. Landry Democrat.
C. J. Taylor, who has been doing so much work on Puck during the past year, was born in New York city August 11, 1851. In 1869 he went to Harper’s as an apprentice. At the end of nine months the firm, of which Fletcher Harper was at that time the guiding spirit, wished to make a contract with him for three years. Before Mr. Taylor went to Harper’s he took lessons from Emanuel Leutze, who painted ‘Washington crossing the Delaware.’ He was admitted to the Academy of Design in the fall of 1869. After studying there about three years, he began to paint figures in still life, which he tried to sell at auction, but found that sort of life precarious. While engaged in his Bohemian work he took lessons from Eastman Johnson, the painter of “The Old Kentucky Home.” At that time, Mr. Taylor says, he was too poor to pursue his art education; but, having a studio in the University building, where Mr. Johnson was established, the latter kindly took an interest in him and instructed him in colors and painting, as well as criticising [sic] his work. During this period Mr. Taylor painted hundreds of landscape pictures in oil, which he sold to dealers and at auction. When the Graphic was established in 1873 he joined its staff and began to draw cartoons and do general work. His first cartoon was a picture of a paper building, with small outline pictures, explanatory of the subject, and figures of the directors of the Industrial Exhibition scheme throwing dust in the people's eyes. He thought cartooning would be an immense success, and deemed it a good plan to acquire a store of varied knowledge and to discipline his mind; so, in 1873, he entered Columbia Law School. During the first year he continued to draw for the Graphic; but as the strain was too severe and he wished to obtain a degree, he resigned from that paper and devoted the whole of 1871 to the study of law. He received his diploma in May, 1874, and, at the first alumni meeting, a few weeks later, he was elected secretary. Wm. Walter Phelps was chosen alumni orator at the same time. Mr. Taylor had as classmates at Columbia Law School Robert Bay Hamilton, a member of the New York Assembly for three terms; Hugh Reily, now district attorney of Albany, N. Y.; Wm. C. Gulliver, one of the directors of the new Madison-square Garden scheme, and a brother of Theodore Roosevelt, the latter being then in the junior class, as was also Wm. Waldorf Astor, ex-minister to Italy. After leaving the law school Mr. Taylor formed a legal firm, in company with Edward Nicoll and Adam E. Schatz; but he withdrew after six months and returned to the Graphic, where he remained until 1882, when he took a studio and did general work, which he exhibited at the exhibitions. After leaving the Graphic Mr. Taylor was elected a member of the Salmagundi Club and American Black and White Society. He continued to work for himself until April, 1886, when he joined the staff of Puck. Last summer, in company with Julian Ralph, he “did” the fashionable seaside resorts for the Sunday Sun. The full-page accounts were very exhaustive, and three days were devoted to each place. While the sketches were rough and hurriedly executed, Mr. Taylor says they were true to life. In appearance Taylor is the beau-ideal of an artist. He is six feet in height; has a large head and a very long one, which is covered with bushy hair, slightly tinged with gray. His nose is large and rather pointed, and he wars a medium mustache and side-whiskers. He is married and has two children. His home is in East Orange, N. J., where he has resided in his own house for five years. He is a steady worker, and even works five nights out of the seven.
According to the New York, New York, Marriage Index, Taylor married Mary Adelaide Levison, of New York, February 23, 1876. Who’s Who in New York City and State had her maiden name as Lewson.

The New York Evening World, May 18, 1888, reported the formation of the Fellowcraft Club “to unite, for purposes of social intercourse, the artists and men who contribute to the periodical literature of the day.” Taylor was elected vice-president.

Some of the books Taylor illustrated include The Tailor-Made Girl, Her Friends, Her Fashions and Her Follies (1888), In the 400 and Out (1889) and Three Operettas (1897).

Munsey's Magazine 2/1894

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Taylor produced Half-Back Harold and Simple Sibyl, from March 22 to May 10, 1903, for the New York Herald. Taylor’s The Gentle Citizen appeared in the New York Tribune from April 6 to July 20, 1902.

According to the 1910 census, Taylor, his wife Mary, and daughters Adelaide and Virginia resided in South Orange, New Jersey, at 426 Centre Street. Taylor’s occupation was self-employed portrait artist. Who’s Who in America had an additional address for Taylor at 16 Gramercy Park in New York City.

The Pittsburgh Gazette Times (Pennsylvania), August 30, 1911, reported that Taylor accepted the position of director of the department of illustrating of the Carnegie Technical Schools in Pittsburgh.

Taylor’s participation as a member of the committee for Pennsylvania and the south Atlantic States advisory to the department of fine arts of the Panama-Pacific Exposition was reported in the New York Sun, September 6, 1913. Taylor’s exposition paintings for the Pennsylvania State Building were published in The Upholsterer, August 15, 1915, on pages 64, 65 and 66

In the 1920 census Taylor was a widower whose daughter, Adelaide, lived with him at 713 College in Pittsburgh.

Taylor passed away January 18, 1929, in Pittsburgh. His death was covered in an early 1929 issue of Carnegie Magazine.

Into the Shadows
Charles Jay Taylor, head of the Painting and Decoration Department in the College of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, died from pneumonia on January 18. 
Eighteen years ago Mr. Taylor came to Tech, and from the beginning he was one of the most picturesque figures on the campus—full of gentle dignity and quiet charm. His students early felt the force of his personality. The college community not only respected him as an artist and teacher, but they loved him as a man. His loyalty to Carnegie Tech was shown in his intense interest in all campus activities, and in the fact that the Carnegie Alma Mater song is his composition.

Mr. Taylor occupied a definite place in the field of art and was nationally known as an illustrator and a painter. In the earlier days of his career he lent his talents to black and white and he was one of the best illustrators of the gay-nineties’ miss, as shown by his famous Taylor-made Girl, who was perhaps a harbinger of the later Gibson Girl. N. C. Bunner’s “Short Sixes” and “More Short Sixes,” which first appeared in “Puck,” are probably the most familiar of the sketches which he illustrated. He did these with such interpretive sympathy that he shared honor with Bunner. Those who studied under him caught him sometimes in a reminiscent mood, and then it was that they delighted in his personal recollections of Mark Twain, Phil May, Brander Matthews, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Albert Bigelow, Charles Dana Gibson, Edwin Abbey, Edward Redfield, Robert Henri, and many others. [missing text]...
the genial Gardener and the spirit which prompted his creation. Not long before his death he suggested that he had in process some new views of the Garden in a different season and a different mood.

—Alex Jay


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