Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr
3809 Laguna Ave
Palo Alto,
CA 94306-2629


Flagg Signature

From The Century Magazine June 1915 - "Current Comment"

The first entry of achievement under the name of Mr. Flagg in the current volume of "Who's Who in America” records that he was an illustrator of “St. Nicholas" in 1890, which date our old friend the Lightning Calculator will almost instantly inform us is a quarter century in the past.

Now, to subtract a round twenty-five years from Mr. Flagg's far from lengthy sojourn with mankind leaves a minuend that does not entitle the youthful artist to long trousers, and puts him into short jackets ; and thereby hangs a tale.

The year 1890 beheld the artist J. M. Flagg about to enter the art world and his teens. In March of that year, on a Saturday afternoon, Jimmy Flagg, armed only with a few pencil sketches he had made in Central Park, overcame a boy's awe of the editorial Olympians, and presented himself in the office of "St. Nicholas" and asked to see one of the editors. The writer of these lines was told to receive the young caller, and after a few words set himself to examine the boy's drawings.

There was something in those easy, unstudied lines that breathed ability and capacity so great that words of praise and encouragement seemed only a duty. They were strong and sincere words, and, as Mr. Flagg said recently, sent him away "walking on air."

The editorial praise was duly reported at home, and led to another visit from the young artist, this time to ask if the editor would repeat to the boy's mother the praise already given to the boy's work. And soon afterward came the mother, to whom even more was said than could be properly put in talking to a boy of twelve -- something of what unusual promise for the future seemed to be in the sketches shown. A plea was made that the rarity of the boy's gift entitled him to give his life to art work. The plea was the stronger that it came from one who in boyhood had wished to be an artist, and who to this day regrets that the wish was never carried out.

An invitation to visit the boy's father was given, and within a few days the writer found himself invited to dine and afterward to take part in a family council. It was not a matter of combating parental opposition, but of strengthening parental faith, and changing passive willingness into an active purpose to further a wise ambition.

After that talk, Mr. Flagg's visits to the editorial office became frequent, and the young illustrator was always assured of a warm welcome and of a keen interest in his work, some of which the magazine published, though of course the drawings of that time had in them more of promise than of fulfilment.

Art teaching was sought, and the native skill was trained and developed chiefly under the wise guidance of the Art Students' League, where the artist was able to prove his ability in competition with his fellows. In the outer world also was found a demand for the forceful pencil of the capable student, and before long frequent checks proved that even from the commercial point of view an art career was to be worth while.

To-day we do not need to give readers a list of his works with pen, brush, and pencil to entitle James Montgomery Flagg to his place in the sun or in the exhibitions. But The Century Co. is glad to put on record the story of whatever part in the boy’s early work may have been played by the welcome he received when he brought his first sketches to the office of “St. Nicholas,” and there found a welcome and a sympathy which did something for his future. That in the case of Mr. Flagg the enouragement was sure to be met with at some period does not lessen the value of early recognition.

Back Back to Flagg Biography.