Local artist is honored with historical marker | News, sports, jobs

Next month during the Ways Garden Art Show, a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker will be placed in the garden in honor of Frances Tipton Hunter, a local artist who delighted people in the 1940s with her sweet watercolors of children, some of which are the had a big hit. magazine covers of the day.

According to an article on, “Hunter longed to remember the happiness of her earliest childhood memories, and this remained a constant theme throughout her life’s work.”

Hunter was born in Howard, Center County. When she was six years old, her mother died and her father sent her and her brother to live with relatives in Williamsport, Francis and Edward McIntyre. While here she attended Williamsport schools.

In a local newspaper report at the time, Hunter was recalled as “She picked out some pretty bad drawings from the Cherry and White (the high school newspaper) and played unspectacular basketball while still in college.” according to a recent presentation for the Lycoming County Historical Society’s annual meeting at the Thomas T. Taber Museum by Dana Brigandi, director of development, marketing and public relations at the James V. Brown Library.

“After graduating from Williamsport High School, she studied illustration in Philadelphia. And she ended up winning a $500 Wanamaker Department Store prize,” Brigandi said.

She noted that the story of the prize was mentioned in several accounts and when she researched it further, she discovered that the prize awarded to Hunter in 1918 is the equivalent of a $10,000 prize today.

“So that’s why it was such a big deal and that’s why everyone kept referring to it,” Brigandi explained.

Hunter then went to New York City to try to get into the magazine field. She was quoted as saying that the “Magazines were not impressed.”

“So she continued to draw countless children’s fashions, designed for state department stores, until she gained a foothold in women’s magazines,” Brigandi said.

After her health deteriorated, Hunter returned to Williamsport for a few years and Brigandi shared that while she was here “She still contributed to the big city markets.”

After this, Hunter continued to study in Philadelphia before becoming a freelance illustrator.

“Her illustration was printed in magazines such as Women’s Home Companion, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan as well as many major magazines. She created covers for major weeklies and her photographs were used extensively in national advertisements such as the Firestone Tire Co. In particular, her artwork graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post eighteen times in the mid-1930s and 1940s. Her illustrations are said to be in the style of Norman Rockwell.

A newspaper article at the time stated that although Hunter “didn’t have enough time to pursue her interest in portrait work, she had a pleasant experience painting”,

While Hunter lived here, she spent much of her time illustrating the Monroe Leaf book for children, ‘Boo, who used to be afraid of the dark’ which was published by Random House in 1948.

While Hunter was in Williamsport, Brigandi said, she was a member of the newly formed Williamsport Art Guild and later served as its president.

“When she started at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia, she knew from day one that she wanted to be an illustrator,” Brigandi said.

“She explained that her teacher always said that the difference between an illustrator and other artists was that the artist painted what the eye saw, while the illustrator painted the image formed in the mind,” Brigandi stated.

In 1920, Hunter told a Williamsport Sun journalist “I always have the idea of ​​the child I want to put on paper in my head and I am never satisfied until I get that child on paper.”

“Sometimes I destroy half a dozen because they are not exactly what I have in mind, because I know I cannot rest until I have accomplished what I set out to do,” Hunter said.

In 1946 Hunter was approached to take over the “Sandy in trouble” book series that lasted 11 years, Brigandi said. The paintings for the book depicted the everyday problems of a boy and his dog.

During the city’s Sesquicentennial in 1956, Hunter visited Williamsport and was selected by the State Chamber of Commerce as one of Pennsylvania’s first ambassadors. According to Brigandi, she was also called a prominent daughter of Williamsport at the time.

Hunter died on March 3, 1957 at the age of 61 in Philadelphia. She was buried in Howard.

When Hunter died, she donated most of her work to the library, the Historical Society and the Williamsport Home.

During her presentation, Brigandi shared some interesting anecdotes she found in local newspapers at the time.

“Francis was in town to judge a Williamsport High School Art Contest and donated one of her works to the high school she graduated from,” Brigandi said.

Another article highlights an exhibition of her work at the James V. Brown Library.

In a 1922 Gazette and Bulletin article, Hunter discussed her commercial success.

‘She said the way her works were reproduced was very disappointing’ Brigandi said.

“She said that the three methods used for the line method were pen and ink, the halftone method for watercolor drawings, and the three or four color process. She noted that the reproduction process is heartbreaking because the final product is never the same as the original. This is due to the fact that the many mixed colors of an original drawing are so impossible to reproduce.” Brigandi said.

The marker honoring Hunter’s achievements will be unveiled at a ceremony June 9 during the art exhibit in Way’s Garden, at the corner of West Fourth and Maynard Streets.

Today’s latest news and more in your inbox

Back To Top