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 Haddon (Sunny) Hubbard Sundblom  (1899 - 1976)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Michigan      Known for: magazine and commercial illustration

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Ad Code: 2
Haddon Hubbard Sundblom
from Auction House Records.
Beautiful woman at the beach
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Haddon Sundblom, whom his friends called "Sunny", became one of the most prominent American illustrators of the early 20th century and dominated that field in Chicago beginning in the 1920s.  The original firm was Sundblom and Anderson and was located at 840 North Michigan Avenue before a move to 510 North Dearborn and then to Ontario Street with the name Sundblom, Johnston, and White.

He created many images that became famous for Coco Cola such as their annual Santa Claus figure for which he sometimes used himself as the model.  Other clients were Colgate, Maxwell House, Proctor and Gamble, etc. Voluptuous women, action figures, and bright, contrasting colors were a specialty.

In 1925, he formed his own teaching studio with Howard Stevens and Edwin Henry, and many of their students including Howard Terpning became well-known illustrators.

Sundblom credited Anders Zorn and John Singer Sargent as major influences.

He left school to work at the age of thirteen when his mother died, and took night classes and correspondence courses for many years to complete his education.  He also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art.  In 1987, he was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

From the late 1940s until 1954, he spent several of the winter months in Tucson, Arizona.  One of his associates, Charles R. Showalter, reported that the paintings Sundblom sent back to the studio had "too much yellow" and that Sundblom "had trouble with the light in Arizona". 

Of Sundblom's reported alcoholism, Showalter said that he did not drink on the job, but when he finished a painting, "he would go on a two-day bender, then come into the studio in a wrinkled suit coat, wash up, and get to work".  He also reported that Sundblom painted fast, and ever instructed his students to 'loosen up' with their painting.  His workers were instructed to strive for the look of having been done fast, even though it might take many hours. 

Showalter had a very positive impression of his boss:  "Sunny was terrific with all the artists that went through there.  He gave everybody a real boost." (Olsen)  Showalter also recalled that during the Depression, Sundblom was offered stock in Coco-Cola as a substitute for payment for work, but he declined saying that it was more important for his staff to be paid.

Sources include:
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000
Robert E. Olsen, "The Rediscovery of Charles R. Showalter", Illustration, Spring 2006, pp. 25-51
John F. Showalter, "The Life and Art of Charles R. Showalter", Illustration, Spring, 2006, pp. 53-62
Peter Hastings Falk (editor), Who Was Who in American Art

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


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