For his cartoons of Peter Rabbit and other lovable woodland animals, and for most of his similarly amusing artwork, Walter Harrison Cady painted with a lightness of touch and a colorful palette.
Cady was born in Gardner, Massachusetts, and during World War I he practiced his skills as a political cartoonist. Along with Thornton W. Burgess (1874-1965), a childrens’ nature book author, Cady created more than 3,000 illustrations of furry creatures in their native wildlife habitat. To his artistic credit, magazines such as LIFE, the Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, and the Ladies Home Journal featured his illustrations on their covers over the years. Harrison Cady exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and he became a member of the American Society of Etchers and the American Watercolor Society.
Harrison Cady’s favorite painting medium was a mixed one, often beginning a composition with pencil or ink, then adding watercolor or oils, depending on whether he was using paper, panel or canvas. For ‘Turkeys Enjoying Thanksgiving’ Cady included a menu in the composition for the whimsical ink on paper cartoon.
Rockport, Massachusetts, setting of the famous ‘Motif # 1,’ became Harrison Cady’s summer home in 1925, when he acquired property on the rocky, inner harbor. Much sought after local land- scapes and marine paintings by him in oil date from this period and beyond, as do the many picturesque views Cady painted in the deep south in South Carolina, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Harrison Cady was instrumental in founding the Rockport Art Association in 1921, and the New York-based artist died in the granite-quarry town in 1970 at the age of ninety-three.