Many guests who come to the Law Library ask about our judge portrait collection, and comment with admiration on the late Edward V. Brewer’s masterful painting style. With Brewer’s reputation, it is not surprising that the other portrait artists seem to suffer by comparison. The prime case in point is that of artist James Artig, who painted the portraits of Judge Carlton McNally and Judge Marshall Hurley. The Law Librarian would like to shed some light on the late Mr. Artig, and hopefully pay some credit to his artistic legacy.
James Lonsdale Artig was born in 1921. Reading this obituary of Judge McNally’s daughter Catherine, we learn that she was married to Artig, and that together they had five children. We can see that the portrait of Judge McNally was dated 1960, and know that it was painted by his son-in-law. The Hurley painting is not dated, but given that Hurley served from 1959-1960, it is safe to say it was painted within the same time frame. It is highly possible, though not certain, that Artig landed this portrait gig through family connections. James and Catherine Artig divorced in 1973, and he died on February 28, 1991.
Artig’s artistic style cannot be fully appreciated from these two judge portraits. In contrast to Brewer’s delicate brush strokes and subtle lighting, Artig’s artistic style featured stronger lines and heavier use of white pigments. It turns out that Artig built his reputation on painting rugged outdoor scenes and wildlife. Serving trays painted by Artig depict moose, antelope, and other wildlife. See also this painting done for the Hamm Brewing Company, which features a bright outdoor scene of sailboats under a summer sky. So to judge Artig simply on two judge portraits is to really underestimate his strengths as an artist. If you have additional information regarding artist James Lonsdale Artig, please share it with us!