John Ford Clymer, 82; Western Artist and Illustrator


Western artist John Ford Clymer, who painted nearly 100 covers for the Saturday Evening Post and commanded five-figure prices for his sweeping historic scenes, has died in Bellevue, Wash. He was 82.

Clymer, who lived for many years in Wyoming, died Thursday after a long illness.

Born in Ellensburg, Wash., on Jan. 29, 1907, the popular painter studied at the Vancouver School of Art, the Ontario College of Art, the Wilmington Academy of Art and the Grand Central School of Art.

For 40 years, he was a successful commercial artist, illustrating stories for numerous magazines in Canada and the United States. He painted the Post covers between 1942 and 1963.

From that time until his death, Clymer devoted himself to painting North American game animals and historic scenes of the American West. He had his first one-man show in 1964 in New York.

Clymer, whose works were favorites at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, and at the annual Cowboy Artists of America show in Phoenix, was known for painstaking historical research, including visits to the location of each of his scenes.

In 1978, when Clymer was in his 70s, 282 people took part in a drawing at the Phoenix show for the privilege of paying $30,000 for his "Water, Water--Overland Astorians 1811," a 30-by-40-inch oil painting of an expedition financed by John Jacob Astor. The only other painting Clymer did that year was snapped up for $25,000.

In 1979, Clymer's "Roast Rabbit" was sold in the Phoenix drawing for $40,000, only to be resold a few minutes later to a losing bidder who paid the winner $55,000.

Clymer received the Franklin Mint Gold Medal for Western Art in 1973 and the Gold Medal in Oil from the National Academy of Western Art in 1974. He was named to the New York Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1982, and was featured on the PBS program "Profiles in American Art" in 1984.

Survivors include his wife, Doris, of Teton Village, Wyo.; his son, David; his daughter, Jo Lorraine Tatum, and five grandchildren.

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