It’s so much fun to discover an artist whose work I haven’t known before. This happened again last weekend at an antique show in Houston where one of the dealers had some wonderful original cartoons by Barbara Shermund. Of course I wanted to learn more about this talented woman, who could draw so well but also wrote her own gags.
Shermund started working at The New Yorker just 4 months after the magazine was founded. She was only 26 years old! Within months, she had designed her first cover, this highly stylized image of a modern young woman gliding along in the night. Her bobbed hair is blowing, while she confidently dozes, her profile framed by the twinkling stars. Does her nose remind you of Mrs. Gautreau’s in Sargeant’s Portrait of Madame X?
Shermund came from an artistic family- her dad was an architect and her mom was a sculptor. She was born in San Francisco in 1899 and started drawing when she was little. She studied at the California School of Fine Arts before heading the New York.
Shermund once told Collier’s Magazine that her visit became a long time residence “after she had eaten up her return fare.” She had a hard time settling down, staying with friends and traveling with no permanent address until later in life.