In the late 1920’s, and thru the 1930’s, Americans looked forward to reading their magazines each month. Publications such as Life, Look, Atlantic Monthly and National Geographic were the most famous. But adults and children also looked forward to magazines such as Cosmopolitan, The Delineator, The Woman's Home Companion, McCall's and Liberty.
These magazines proved extremely popular by running serial stories. These stories, with original illustrations, ran from three, six and even 12 months. One such story was the “The Whistling Cat,” by Robert Chalmers (1865 –1933). Chalmers was an American artist and fiction writer, best known for his book of short stories entitled The King in Yellow, published in 1895.
The Whistling Cat was a story of historical fiction that was published in twelve parts between November 14, 1931, and January 30, 1932. The stories were illustrated by Norman Price.
The illustration below appeared in the January 16, 1932 issue of Liberty Magazine on pages 62 and 63. It depicts the destruction wrought by an artillery shell exploding next to a fieldpiece and limber. The illustration has a mounted caption that reads, "The fighting near Spotsylvania had become murderous to a horrifying degree."
Norman Mills Price (1877–1951) below was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He was a powerful illustrator with all the educational trappings of a delicate and disciplined Royal Academician. He studied first at the Ontario School of Art, and in 1901, traveled to London to study at the Goldsmith’s Institute, the Westminster School of Art, and then with George Cruickshank. After all this schooling, Price founded the Carlton Studios in London, but left England shortly thereafter. In Paris, he studied even further at the venerable Academy Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant and Richard Miller.
His magazine illustrations were published by American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, St. Nicholas, and Women’s Home Companion. Price’s strong and authentic-looking images were most frequently used on covers. He truly understood the difference between cover and interior images.
Norman Price was a relatively unsung illustrator whose talents exceeded his fame. This was unfortunately probably due to his meticulous research, which enveloped him even more than creating the artwork itself. This compulsion and drive was at once an asset, and also ultimately, a debit. The illustration is a tribute to Prices’ reputation, as it is meticulous in historical accuracy and detail.