NEW: Check out the current exhibition at the South Dakota Art Museum.
Here is a biography that I found among some family papers:
Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer, Artist, was a son of Erich Hansen Schlaikjer, South Dakota homesteader, and Clara Ryser Schlaikjer. The father, Erich Schlaikjer, had returned to his childhood sweetheart, Clara, in Germany, after a successful career as a salesman of drug remedies in the southeastern United States. Erich and Clara were married in Germany in 1896, and Jes was born enroute to U.S. aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse on 22 Sep, 1897.
The family settled in Johnstown City, Kentucky, and after the flooding of that city in 1907, Erich decided to homestead with his family north of Carter, South Dakota.
Jes spent his youth with his four brothers, Arthur, Oscar, Hugo and Erich, working their South Dakota ranch with their father. Jes was educated at Red Hill School, Progressive Township and at Winner High School.
He became a telegrapher for the local railroad while still in his teens and his first leaning toward art was when he was appointed cartoonist for the Carter, South Dakota newspaper.
With the entry of the United States in the First World War, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Jes served with distinction in France during the war, finally as the Chief Receiving Operator at the Lafayette Radio Station in Paris. The station was the main continental communications link for the Allied Forces.
At the conclusion of the war, he resumed his artistic career with studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lyons, France. Subsequent studies were at the famous Chicago Art Institute, where he worked under Harvey Dunn, Henri, Forsberg and Dean Cornwell.
While at the Art Institute, he met Gladys deGroot of Salt Lake City, also a student at the Art Institute. They were married September 14, 1922, and made their home in New York City, where Jes started his professional career as an artist, portraitist, illustrator, and art teacher. He and his wife had two children, Jes Erich, and electronic engineer and engineering writer and Helen Jean, an artist.
Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer attained national recognition as an artist, becoming and Academician of the National Academy of Design. His works are represented in the permanent exhibitions of the National Academy of Design,the Ranger Collection, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the War Department, the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross, the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. , the U.S. Department of State in Washington, the Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, the University of Indiana, the Marine Corps School of Quantico, Va., the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and many other public buildings and. private collections.
He was a profuse illustrator for national magazines. His works appeared in Woman's Home Companion, American Magazine, Collier's, Red Book Magazine, American Legion Monthly and others.
In 1942 he became official Artist of the U.S. War Department, with a studio in the Pentagon, from which he issued a long series of wartime inspirational posters for morale and recruitment. He prepared portraits of military leaders of the nation, including Eisenhower, Patton and many others. These works hang today in the War College in Washington in Washington, D.C.
After his wartime contributions, he maintained a portraiture,studio in Washington, painting the likenesses of many social, political and business men and women.
Honors accorded him in the artistic world include: First Hallgarten Prize of the National Academy of Design, 1926, First Altman Prize of the National Academy of Design, 1928, Ranger Fund, 1928 and Second Hallgarten Prize of the National Academy Design, 1932.
He was a member of the National Academy of Design, the Grand Central Art Gallery, the Artists Guild, the American Legion, the Armor and Arms Club, the First Division Society, and the Salamagundi Club.
On August 1982, Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer died after a long illness with Parkinson's disease at his home in Washington, D.C.
There is more info over on the AskArt site.
You could buy some works at the American Illustrators Gallery
Jes painted a range of topics. All over the web you will see his war posters, the one on the right being particularly popular. I have a copy of the pretty WAC one. He also did portraits of various military figures. And he did a lot of magazine covers, some military, some not. He also did some covers for pulp paperbacks (some collected in Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines ). And finally, he also painted some rather nice oil paintings of western farm scenes.
The Oscar Schlaikjer mentioned in the article at left, is my (Erich's) grandfather.
Here is a war poster story ("O'er the Ramparts We Watch"). Contrary to its assertion, Schlaikjers are not French! Thanks to SMSgt Craig Kirwin for tracking it down.
As for the pretty WAC poster, perhaps the subject was this Helen McConnon, as in the link above, or perhaps it was Carmen D'Aiuto, as her grand-daughter emailed me.
A collection of Jes' WWII posters was donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in his grandson Paul Biegel's name. For a bio of Paul, see his paper on Navy matters.
Here is an old newspaper article about Jes's metallurgical pursuits. And here is another from the same paper a few years later.
I have one oil painting by Jes (below). Contact me if you have anything to sell!
John Rychtarik, the Curator of Exhibits at the South Dakota Art Museum, was kind enough to send images of some of the museum's collection. The one with the mother and son in the strange eroded landscape also appears on the cover of October 1937 'Womans Day' magazine as "The Cooling Well".
And some pulp examples.
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