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J. ALLEN ST. JOHN

(American, 1872-1957)
J Allen St John Golden Lion Easel Portrait

An illustrator, art teacher, fine artist and author, J. Allen St. John left an indelible mark on the world of fantasy and adventure with his classical, dynamic compositions and elegant figures. He is regarded as one of the greatest of all heroic fantasy illustrators and the creator of this genre of art. He was a major influence on later, notable fantasy artists in the 1960s including Frank Frazetta and is still considered a grand master of fantasy by modern day artists.

 

One of St. John’s earliest illustrations was for the book The Return of Tarzan (1915) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the most successful popular fiction writers of all time. St. John’s illustrations for Burroughs’ Tarzan, Mars and Pellucidar series of books included the full color book jackets, interior illustrations, and often the lettering for the title pages.

 

By the early 1930s, St. John’s name had become synonymous with Burroughs’ heroic tales. Burroughs once credited, “St. John added considerably to whatever success I have had… His visualization of the nightmare creatures of my imagination is truly remarkable.” Despite this fact and after thirty-six books together, Burroughs started his own publishing company in 1931 and stopped using St. John. He found St. John’s rates too high and wanted to employ the artistic talents of his own son.

 

After losing his best client, St. John moved on to covers by Weird Tales and Magic Carpet magazines. He was eventually dropped from Weird Tales when the publisher decided to use artist Margaret Brundage’s sex-infused artwork for the covers, since those sold better than images of men and monsters. St. John remained industrious in the pulp genre during the 1940s and 1950s creating paintings for various magazines including those of editor Raymond Palmer such as Amazing Stories, Fate, and Other Worlds.

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The Chessmen of Mars (Final Interior Plate, p. 350), c. 1922

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Oil on illustration board

The Chessmen of Mars is an Edgar Rice Burroughs science fiction novel, the fifth of his famous Barsoom series. Burroughs began writing it in January of 1921, and the finished story was first published in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a six-part serial in the issues for February 18 and 25 and March 4, 11, 18 and 25, 1922. It was later published as a complete novel by A. C. McClurg in November of 1922 featuring masterful cover and interior illustrations by the artist J. Allen St. John.

“Gahan looked in upon a small chamber dimly lighted”

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The Chessmen of Mars (Sixth Interior Plate, p. 238), c. 1922

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Oil on illustration board

The Chessmen of Mars is an Edgar Rice Burroughs science fiction novel, the fifth of his famous Barsoom series. Burroughs began writing it in January of 1921, and the finished story was first published in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a six-part serial in the issues for February 18 and 25 and March 4, 11, 18 and 25, 1922. It was later published as a complete novel by A. C. McClurg in November of 1922 featuring masterful cover and interior illustrations by the artist J. Allen St. John.

“O’Tar’s sword slipped from his nerveless fingers”

J. ALLEN ST. JOHN ILLUSTRATION

J Allen St. John - Capture of Meriem
The Capture of Meriem (1917)

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Pen and ink on illustration paper

Interior illustration for the novel The Son of Tarzan (p. 159) written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and published by A.C. McClurg & Co. (Chicago, IL) in 1917.

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J Allen St John - Napaea
Napaea (c. 1910)

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Gouache on Brudno illustration board

It is suggested that Napaea depicts a nude portrait of St. John’s wife: Ella May Munger. They were married in Chicago in 1905. St. John used Munger as a model for various paintings.

Napaea are a type of nymph in Greek mythology. Nymphs were not immortal but were extremely long- lived and kindly disposed toward men. They were distinguished according to the sphere of nature with which they were connected. Along with the Alseiads, Napaea were nymphs of glens and groves, in which the figure appears in this composition.

J Allen St. John - Tigress
Tigress and Cub (c. 1930)

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Watercolor w/ gouache on Monogram board

For Sale J. Allen St. John Chessmen of Mars Drawing
Chessmen of Mars (1922)

J. Allen St. John (American, 1872-1957)

Pen and ink w/ charcoal on textured paper

Preliminary drawing for the cover and third interior plate for The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs published by A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, Nov. 1922.

“Gahan of Gathol smote the man from his mount.”

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