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Artist Biography
Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944)

GibsonGibson was born 14 September, 1867, in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was educated at Flushing High School and continued his training at the Art Students' League, New York. Gibson studied with Augustus Saint Gaudens and attended Julian's in Paris. His first cartoon appeared in the 25 March 1886 issue of Life. From that time, Gibson's cartoons appeared frequently in Life, Tid-Bits, and Time, and occasionally in Puck.

Gibson's drawings chronicled American high society in New York and Boston, where old aristocratic families mingled with each other at the exclusion of newcomers. While Gibson's subjects were mostly American, he visited Europe and drew Paris and London society as well. His drawings were done on a large scale which was greatly reduced. This gave a superb fineness and finish to the final printed image.

The popularity of Gibson's cartoons created a national sensation which drew many imitators. They also dictated the fashions and manners of a generation. Men sporting beards were suddenly out, as Gibson's depiction of the 'ideal beau' was clean shaven. His cartoons today represent what Gibson's contemporaries thought, how they behaved, and what the social conventions of the time were.

During the early 1890s, Gibson began to draw what would become his most famous creation, the Gibson Girl. She was tall, athletic, and beautiful. The Gibson Girl epitomized the characteristics of the ideal turn-of-the-century American woman and fulfilled American society's need for an aristocracy of their own. This creation first appearing in the book Drawings and was an immediate success. Images of the Gibson Girl appeared on dishes, pillows, shirtwaists, shoes, dressing-table sets, folio books, and even wallpaper.

Gibson died of myocarditis at his home in New York, 23 December, 1944.


Horn, Maurice, ed. The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons. 2d ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.

Houfe, Simon. The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, 1800-1914. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Company, 1978.

Smith, Steven E., Catherine A. Hastedt, and Donald H. Dyal, eds. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 188, American Book and Magazine Illustrators to 1920. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1998.