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American (20th Century)
Dan Lawler, American (b. 1918)
Daniel James Lawler was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on March 1, 1918 to Joseph Earle Lawler and Mabel (McGregor) Lawler. He went to the Minneapolis School of Art from 1937 to 1940 and then received a scholarship to the School of the National Academy of Design in New York. He studied there and at the Arts Students League and National Academy from 1940 - 1941, as well a privately with Paul Trebilcock (a Chicago-trained painter who lived in New York and specialized in portraits). In 1941, he was drafted into World War II. Just before he left, he married Jeanne Rapp of St. Paul. Minnesota.
He was in the United States Army and stormed Utah Beach in Normandy the first hour of D-Day. Shortly thereafter he was wounded and captured by Germans. The Americans found him after a little over a month of captivity and he was freed in Belgium. After getting home after the war and back to his wife, he returned to New York City to find a job.
Lawler was hired by "Parents Magazine" in 1945. His primary work in this period was illustration for "Parents Magazine", "Humpty Dumpty", "Readers Digest", a few children's books, and advertisements for stores in NYC. He designed the huge clock in the entrance of FAO Schwartz in New York City, which became a symbol for the store. Merging his gifts for illustration and portraiture, Lawler produced the portrait of Howard Hughes for the cover of "Time Magazine" for January 24, 1972.
Lawler retired in 1980 and has not done any professional work since. Arthritis in his hands has prevented all but little sketches for his grandchildren. Throughout his career, his first love was portraiture but he only continued doing it privately. He did oil portraits of each of his children and a number of friends and family, as well as some of the staff of "Parents Magazine". Lawler had only a few local exhibits of his non-illustration work. Articles were published about his designs for his own house on Long Island and a mural for the chapel at Camp Barkley in Abilene, Texas.
Lawler loved doing the covers for "Humpty Dumpty Magazine"—he thought it was a grand job! He said he could not have had more fun and it was a terrific way to make a living. He was able to support and raise 4 children and keep his wife home and happy, which was the common thing to do with that generation. He did always talk about doing more portraits but thought that it would be too difficult to make a solid living from portraiture, so he stayed with illustration and "Parents Magazine".
He loved New York. Lawler could often be seen wandering around, on his lunch time, through little shops and collecting items of interest such as carved pipes and pocket watches. He currently lives with his son Tom and daughter-in-law, Karen, in Richboro, Pennsylvania and is still very healthy. He has lived there since 2001 and continues to drive around the countryside of Bucks County looking for buildings and items of interest.
Information provided by Karen Lawler, July 2005