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Charles MacLellan

 (1885/87 - 1961)
Charles Archibald MacLellan was active/lived in Delaware, Ontario / Canada.  Charles MacLellan is known for illustration, painting, commercial art, teaching.

Charles MacLellan

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Charles MacLellan
Charles A. MacLellan (1885 or 1887 - 1961) (1)

A prolific American illustrator, painter, commercial artist and educator, Charles Archibald MacLellan was born in Trenton, Ontario, Canada, came to Chicago with his parents in about 1892, and died in Wilmington, Delaware, where he had lived since 1910. A follower of Howard Pyle's Brandywine School of Illustration*, MacLellan did about fifty covers for The Saturday Evening Post between 1912 and 1936. He also illustrated covers and articles for numerous other magazines such as Harper's Weekly (January 14, 1911), Collier's (July 4, 1914), The Delineator (February 1915), The Popular Magazine (May 1916), Everybody's Magazine (June 1921), Successful Farming (October 1922), and Modern Priscilla (November 1925). And, he painted pictures to be reproduced as calendars for Rand McNally & Company and did advertising and poster work for Marshall Field and Company, Coca-Cola and others. (2)(3)

His primary medium was oil paint. However, he also briefly worked in stained glass design and engraving (due to the nature of his work as an illustrator and commercial artist he very likely worked in other mediums such as pencil and pen &ink, but no mention, or examples, of those mediums was found in our research). His subjects were portraits, faces, figures, children, women, genre*, allegory, sports, politics, animals, family activities, domestic scenes, social commentary, still life, humor and product advertising subjects such as the Fisk Tire Company and Coca-Cola (see AskART Images).  His style was Realism*, specifically the Brandywine School of Illustration Art*. AskART has some excellent illustrations of his oeuvre. (4)

MacLellan's art education includes studies at the Art Institute of Chicago* (c. 1905 - 1907) and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* ("professional class" in easel painting - 1926). A lecture by Howard Pyle (see AskART) at the AIC is considered to have had a major influence on MacLellan's art; and, it is the reason given for his move to Wilmington, where he could attend Pyle's weekly lectures and obtain further instruction from him. (5)

MacLellan was a charter member of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts (now Delaware Art Museum) and was on its accessions committee (Chairman 1953 - 1958). He was also a Studio Group* teacher (1943 - 1958).

His works were exhibited with the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts* (1936 - 1946); The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* (1944 and 1949); the Pasadena Art Institute [now Norton Simon Museum], California (1946); and the Terry Art Institute, Coral Gables, Florida (1952).

His works are in the collections of the Brandywine River Museum of Art (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania), the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Delaware), the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), and  The Coca-Cola Company. (6)
(1) Please note: Several sources list his birth year as 1885; but, his obituary (see sources) says June 22, 1887. However, a note accompanying the obituary posted on says, "on both of his draft registrations, he gave 22 June 1885 as his birth date". Sources such as Who Was Who in American Art, 1564 - 1975 and Artists as Illustrators" address the two birth years without resolving which one is correct.

(2) The source for the estimated number of Saturday Evening Post covers is The Saturday Evening Post Archives website; which on one page says MacLellan "did almost fifty Saturday Evening Post covers" and on another page says he "did over fifty colorful covers for The Saturday Evening Post". We have requested a clarification from the Saturday Evening Post and will update this biography when it is provided.

(3) Please note: In several cases MacLellan probably did more illustrations for the other magazines listed, the dates noted are only of one confirmable example for each magazine. - M.D. Silverbrooke.

(4) The work in AskART Images titled Coca-cola advertising illustration is now in the collection of The Coca-Cola Company. Source: The Coca-Cola Company website.

(5) Please note: Edward A. Wilson (see AskART), a Chicago friend of MacLellan's from childhood, accompanied him to Wilmington in 1910, and the two opened a studio together. MacLellan is not mentioned in the AskART biography for Edward A. Wilson and their studio together in Wilmington may not have lasted for very long; however, MacLellan occupied the same premises until his death. The source for the Wilson association is a July 17, 1910 newspaper story, which focused on MacLellan, titled "Wilmington's Colony of Artists"; it appeared on page 12 of The Sunday Morning Star (Wilmington, Delaware), just a few months after the two arrived in Wilmington. - M.D. Silverbrooke.

(6) Museum sources: SIRIS* (Smithsonian Institute Research Information System), Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (website), and The Coca-Cola Company (website).
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

Who Was Who in American Art, 1564 - 1975 (1999), by Peter Hastings Falk (see AskART book references)

Brandywine River Museum: Catalogue of the Collection, 1969 - 1989 (1991) by James H. Duff et al (see AskART book references)

Artists As Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms, 1800 - Present (1989), by John Castagno (see AskART book references)

Who Was Who in American Art: Biographies of American Artists Active from 1898 - 1947 (1985), by Peter Hastings Falk (see AskART book references)

Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (1986), edited by Glenn B. Opitz (see AskART book references)

American Painting and Sculpture, Delaware Art Museum (1975), by Elizabeth H. Hawkes (see AskART book references)

"Wilmington's Colony of Artists", Page 12, The Sunday Morning Star (Wilmington, Delaware), July 17, 1910.

Obituary, page 42, Wilmington Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware; Thursday, October 5, 1961.

SIRIS* (Smithsonian Institute Research Information System)

The Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies website

Saturday Evening Post Archives website

The Coca-Cola Company website

Schoonover Studios Ltd. website

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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Biography photo for Charles MacLellan
Photo courtesy of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (c. 1911).

About  Charles MacLellan

Born:  1885/87 - Trenton, Ontario, Canada.
Died:   1961 - Wilmington, Delaware
Known for:  illustration, painting, commercial art, teaching