biographical entry on Treidler, book unknown, Bob Reed Collection

Some Autobiographical details.

Treidler came to Chicago, en route for New York. in 1906 He spent 18 months there, beginning with fashion illustrations. His employers never gave him the proofs, ensuring he didn't have a portfolio with which to apply for other jobs. He worked for the Chicago Tribune at a pittance, not knowing to ask the proper wage at the beginning. He arrived in New York and settled into Madison Square area, making early contact with Calkins and Holden, and their art director, Walter Whitehead. Early work was paid at thirty dollars a day. "At that time Scribner's, The Century, McClure's, Munsey's all those magazines were published in that area....I could take my samples to three places on one block... I started making up New York samples. I had never seen a hansom cab and hardly ever been in an automobile. I decided to make a drawing with a hansom cab in it. There were a few cars and a lot of hansom cabs at Madison Square and that was the first sample I made to try and get work in New York." In one of his drawings he included a Pierce Arrow car, and Whitehead had just started handling that account. That's how it all started."
The war started him as a poster artist. In 1916 he won the Newark 250th foundation celebration poster and established a national reputation. He was not paid for war posters.

"I never did much liked story illustration . A little bit... I liked scenery and and I liked travel..." He began with some spot illustrations for catalogues, but the main work for Pierce Arrow started in 1928. He used his own images for reference rather than the company's own."I went out in a car and took my own photographs. I could have had photographs and I probably did at some time, but the photographs were all, you know, conventional views such as they used in the catalogs, and they weren't much use to me. "

Treidler was also celebrated for his series of magazine covers for Colliers magazine. He met the editor Albert Lee who commissioned six covers at three times what he was normally paid. From 1930, he worked mainly on marine and holiday images for the French Line (and their agents Ayers of Chicago). He also painted murals in the head offices of the French Line. In his later years he turned from commercial illustration to paint purely for his own pleasure. He died in 1982.

Through the magazine collector Bob Reed, I came across more information about Adolphe Treidler and the development of American commercial art. Bob had known the man and made available to me much information, mostly gleaned from Pierce Arrow sources. My thanks to Bob Reed for this and his immense hospitality. From the 1930's Treidler had been seen as the great American poster artist, to be mentioned in the same breath as the Beggarstaffs and Steinlen. After 1945, his reputation seemed to have declined except among graphic design enthusuasts and the admirers of Pierce Arrow cars with whom Treidler was most associated.

Treidler produced prints of urban life and I show two undated examples showing a favourite theme - the construction of the city. The prints show a command of drawing, derived in places from photographic reference, and a love of intricate surface pattern often from cast shadows.

Magazine and Press Work
A note on Treidler's use of photography in designing, here for a poster, from Gene Byrnes, A Complete Guide to Drawing , Simon & Schuster, New York 1948; "Mr.Treidler considers the photograph useful in establishing size relations, such as the figures to the boat. The elements are then studied in a colour sketch to determine good relationships in the proportion of color, shapes and sizes of various flat areas in the design. When this is done, a careful drawing is made in outline, defining each area of color. These outlines disappear as the color is painted in...." p.324.


detail from the cover of HOLIDAY magazine December 1930 of the Train Conductor. detail from the cover of Collier's magazine January 11th 1919, 14 x 25cms detail from the cover of Collier's magazine March 25th 1911, 13 x 24cms

another illustrator associated with Pierce Arrow - Louis Fanchon.


interview, Pierce Arrow Society