Recently I received a wonderful series of emails from Peter Paeth, the son of painter Louis A. Paeth. Peter has graciously agreed to allow me to reprint pieces of this correspondence on the blog to share this information with everyone. In return, he would love to hear from anyone who might have information about his father's work. At the end of the article, I'll give some contact information.
Louis A. Paeth: The Man Behind the "Fish and Feel Fit" Logo
by Peter Paeth
I believe my late father, Louis A. Paeth, is the artist of the “fish and feel fit” man. In his sizable art files I inherited after the death of my mother three years ago, there is an artist’s proof of “Fish and Feel Fit.” I am hoping that others might lend their expertise on sporting catalog and magazine matters as I attempt to piece together my father’s artistic life story across nearly a century.
I’ve been trying to discover his early art and illustrative career in the ‘20s and ‘30s, since a day five years ago when I came across a book he had illustrated in the ‘20s, The Business Guide, which had been reprinted and was being sold on Amazon.com. I’ve subsequently been able to verify his enrollment in both the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Art School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I have also learned of his employment from 1919 to 1921 at the prestigious art agency, the Charles Everett Johnson Studio of Chicago, where he worked with such famous artists as McClelland Barclay, Andrew Loomis and Haddon Sundblom.
Besides his ‘20s business card, I’ve included a scan of an illustrative work of Louis A. Paeth’s that appeared in the December 1921 edition of Outdoor Life, as well as a cover of the January 1934 edition of Outdoors Magazine, featuring his wild turkeys. Between the years of 1921 and 1928, my father produced an abundance of “sporting and outdoor illustrations” which I’m trying both to locate as to place of publication and occasionally to verify.
I’ve also included two of his fishing scenes—an oil of a fly fisherman midstream and one of two sportsmen in a birch bark canoe. I’m wondering if anyone may have encountered either of these works as illustrations in vintage outdoor or sporting magazines. I suspect they were used as fishing advertisements; but perhaps they may have even been featured as cover illustrations.
If you Google search my father you'll came across the cover illustrations for Sporting Goods Journal on the MagazineArt website. While apparently my father’s desire for the listing in the DuPage County Directory (Naperville, Illinois is located in DuPage County) was to be registered as an artist employed by the Callender-Sullivan Press, actually in fact, he relied on his free lance work throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s. Certainly this work for The Sporting Goods Journal provided him the opportunity for obtaining clients for his “sporting and outdoor illustrations.” Indeed, in the collection there remains illustrated catalogs for skis, skates…even some illustrative work for Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
The 1924 South Bend catalog also was part of his collection…this catalog is a trade catalog that was mailed directly to Louis at his home address in Naperville—surely a courtesy of providing the artist a final specimen of his work. I use the word “was”…regrettably, in my ignorance three years ago, I sold this catalog on eBay.
When I first discovered The Business Guide five years ago, I showed it to my mother and she had never seen it. They had met in Chicago in 1935, eleven years after this book containing my father’s illustrations was first published in 1924. Shortly thereafter, I discovered another ‘20s book, published by the same Naperville publishing house, reprinted and being sold on Amazon. Safe Counsel (“safe counsel” on the facts-of-life) was actually on my mother’s bookshelf, and, a cursory examination of it revealed some signed illustrations by Louis A. Paeth! Due to the sexual frankness of the book, my mother was well aware of the book; but she was unaware that the reason the book was retained in the home library was for her husband’s art featured in it.
This led to many bouts of exasperated inquiries…how could she have not known about any of this? Why hadn’t all of this been part of our family story? She, being fifteen years younger than Louis, was still in grade school when my father painted his illustrations of the mid-‘20s. I now know that her ignorance was similar to my ignorance with the South Bend catalog. The research into my father’s art and illustrative life is akin to private investigative work...my mother and I wouldn’t have made good detectives...I’m now on the path of changing that.
If you have encountered any of his illustrations or paintings and can help me place them to their publication, I would be most appreciative. If you have any further suggestions on how I may proceed in the task of locating and verifying my father’s illustrative artwork, I would be most grateful.
What a great story! If our collector friends out there could check their magazine and catalog collections, and see if they might have some Paeth material, I'm sure Peter would be grateful. Thanks, Peter, for sharing your father will all of us! You can contact him with any questions/comments at petpa AT blackfoot DOT net.
-- Dr. Todd