New Jersey Remembered: A Seventy-fifth Anniversary; Philadelphia Collection 75; October 2005
Frank E. Schoonover
Beach Haven, New Jersey
Oil on board, 5 1/4 × 8 1/2 inches
Inscribed on verso: (in pencil) “Beach Haven/1912”; (in ink) “James F. CARR/41 5th Av/NY NY 10003”
Estate stamp on verso: “Frank E. Schoonover”
Stamp (supplier) on verso: “HARRY YERGER/419 Shipley St./Wilmington Del./[illegible]/PICTURES, PICTURE FRAMES, and Artist Materials.”

Frank E. Schoonover was one of the major representatives of the American “Golden Age of Illustration.” He was born in Oxford, New Jersey, and attended the Model School in Trenton. He studied art at the Drexel Institute with the famous illustrator Howard Pyle (1853–1911) from 1896 to 1897. The following two summers he attended Pyle’s summer art school at Chadds Ford. Schoonover settled in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1899 and embarked on a long and successful career as a commercial artist.

The first story that Schoonover wrote and illustrated was published by Scribner’s Magazine in 1905, the year he joined the Society of Illustrators. He was a founder of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts and remained an active member of the organization throughout his life. He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1913 and joined the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy the following year. He was a co-founder of Wilmington Sketch Club in 1925, organized the School of Illustration for the John Herron Art Institute of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1931, and started his own art school in Wilmington in 1942. Schoonover was especially noted for his illustrations of American Indians, cowboys, and pirates that appeared in popular magazines such as Scribner’s, Harper’s, Century, Colliers, and McClures. He also illustrated classics such as Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Schoonover died in Wilmington.1

Although Schoonover was first and foremost an illustrator, he began to paint landscapes and easel paintings in 1937, usually of the Brandywine and upper Delaware River Valleys. This 1912 landscape represents sand dunes in Beach Haven, a town on Long Beach Island. Beach Haven became a popular resort after Archibald Pharo of Tuckerton decided to build a boarding house there in 1872. His daughter named the town, although others wanted to call it “Beach Heaven.” A new form of fishing called surf casting was introduced in Beach Haven in 1907, when a couple dressed in bathing suits waded into the surf and caught a twenty-pound channel bass.2


1. Cortlandt Schoonover, Frank Schoonover: Illustrator of the Northern American Frontier (New York: Watson-Guptil Publications, 1976).

2. Harold F. Wilson, The Jersey Shore: A Social and Economic History of the Counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1953), vol. 2, pp. 946–47.

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