Neysa Moran McMein was an American Illustrator and portrait painter who studied at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and Art Students League of New York. She started her career as an illustrator, during World War I, she travelled across France entertaining military troops and made posters to support the war effort. Through McMein entire career she was a successful illustrator, she would work for great publication such as McCall’s, The Saturday Evening Post, and Collier’s. Moreover, she was also a successful portrait painter, she would often take commission from famous celebrities and writers.
McMein was born in Quincy, Illinois on January 24, 1888. She was the daughter of Harry Moran and Isabelle Parker McMein. McMein had many talents, she knew how to sing, to act and to draw. After graduating from Quincy High School, she attended The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. In 1913 she went to New York City and attended the Art Students League for a few months. After one year she sold her first artwork to the Boston Star and she also did the cover for the Saturday Evening Post.
Her warm pastel drawing for strong American female was highly popular and brought her many commissions. During World War I she drew posters for the U.S and French governments, McMein spent six months in France as a lecturer and entertainer. From 1923 through 1937 she provided all the artwork for McCall’s covers. She also supplied work to McClure’s, Liberty, Woman’s Home Companion, Collier’s, Photoplay, and other magazines and she also produced advertising graphics for products such as Palmolive soap and Lucky Strike cigarette. General Mills commissioned her to create the image of Betty Crocker.
In addition to her highly successful career as an illustrator and designer McMein also had a great social life, she was a regular member of the Algonquin Round Table set. In 1923 she married John C.Baragwanath and they had a satisfy open relationship. Unfortunately, the popularity of her style decided during the late 1930s so McMein started to focusing more on portraiture using pastel and oil paint.
More of McMain works:
My personal thought about the illustrator:
McMain was a strong independent woman since she was so talented she got the chance to have way more interesting experiences than other women during that period. She had a successful career, producing numerous illustration for popular magazines and she was able to stand out among other male illustrators. Artistic wise I think she had an excellent set of skill but she is limited to portraiture only since I can not find any full body scale illustration from McMein.