Artist Harry Anderson
is famous for his dramatic, lifelike religious paintings. His placement of Christ in more contemporary settings clearly gives the message that Jesus is "here and now." Anderson's vivid compositions, balance of dark and light, use of color, and, most of all, facial expressions, combine to create a stirring mood of the reality of God. He always portrays Christ as compassionate, noble, strong, and confident. Two of his most famous works are: What Happened to Your Hand
and Prince of Peace
But Anderson's fame comes not only from his religious works. In the 1940's and 50's, he was one of the nation's top illustrators for such magazines as Collier's
, Saturday Evening Post
, and Woman's Home Companion
He was born to Swedish parents in 1906 and enjoyed a secure, happy family life. Talent for mathematics seemed to run in the family, so young Harry naturally chose it for his college major. As a diversion from academic work, Anderson took a painting class. It was there that he discovered his talent and decided to pursue a career in art. Anderson then studied art at Syracuse University. After graduation he moved to New York, where he sold candy at night and peddled his art to agencies during the day. He got part-time assignments first and eventually devoted full time to art as his work caught on.
He moved to Chicago, where he met and married Ruth Huebel. They bought a house in Highland Park, and, as Anderson had no time to do the repair work needed, a handyman was hired. It was through this man that the Anderson's renewed their religious faith.
Their pastor sent samples of Anderson's illustrations to the denomination's Review and Herald Publishing Company, publishers of inspirational books and study materials. The Review's art director, Terence Martin, had long had the idea of showing Christ in modern day settings. When he saw Anderson's samples, he knew he had an artist who could bring that idea to life. Thus, Anderson began his career in religious art, still illustrating for magazines to supplement his income.
Harry Anderson has been described as a quiet, unassuming man who did not revel in the many honors and awards he received. To him, serving God through high quality art was enough. He did not rely on thunderbolt-and-lightning inspirations, but on skill, hard work, and his intimate relationship with the Redeemer that he helped others come to know in a real and personal way.