Original illustration art has become a popular collecting field for collectors. The original charcoal drawing pictured here is a fine example of the type of illustration prepared for newspaper publication in the early to mid-twentieth century. The drawing is an excellent patriotic piece that was done by the American illustrator, John Harmon Cassel (1872-1961).
This work by Cassel features an American “Doughboy” of the World War 1 period wearing a Brodie helmet and saluting as he breaks through a paper star. The drawing is titled, “Home Again!” and is signed in the artist’s usual manner as “Jno. Cassel” in the lower right corner.
Cassel was born in Nebraska in 1872 to a pioneer family that had gone west from Indiana in 1856. The family settled in Otoe County where Cassel’s father, Job W. Cassel, was a miner and horticulturist who developed various types of fruit trees suitable for Nebraska’s brutal climate. The senior Cassel was a prominent member of the community and served in the Nebraska State Legislature.
The artist, John Harmon Cassel was a student at Doane College in Nebraska from 1892 to 1894 but left to study art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He married Louise Anderson of New York City in 1902 and was employed as an illustrator for such publications as Ram’s Horn, Life, Puck and Judge. He also provided illustrations for many popular novels. He served as an editorial cartoonist for a New York newspaper, The Evening World, from 1915. The drawing pictured here was published by that paper in the edition dated December 4, 1918, just about one month following the Armistice that ended World War 1. Most American soldiers who served in France did not return home until early 1919. The drawing, “Home Again!” appeared on the top of editorial page (p.20).
Cassel provided many cartoons for the Evening World – many of them concerned labor strife and the “Red Scare” that plagued the post-World War 1 period. He was a member of the Illustrator’s Association and is well regarded for his art. Several of his works, including portraits of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover, are in the Smithsonian collection along with many World War 1 era cartoons. In addition, the Williams College Museum of Art has about forty World War 1 cartoons by Cassel in its collection. Several of his works were included in the 1978 exhibition, “Political Drawings of the 1930s,” at the Anderson Center for the Arts.
Cassel lived in New York City and died there in 1961.