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A Letter From The Publisher, Oct. 31, 1949

3 minute read

A number of you who wrote to us about the four-page color spread of Old Testament figures in the Oct. 10 issue thought that 1) they resembled TIME cover portraits, and 2) the artist who painted them had also done some of TIME’S covers. You were right on both counts.

Guy Rowe, who illustrated the collection of Old Testament narratives (In Our Image) from which our color spread was taken, has done a number of TIME covers, some of which are reproduced below. His work for us was interrupted four years ago when he took on the Old Testament assignment.

It was more than coincidence that Houston Harte, Texas newspaper publisher, happened to choose one of our artists to illustrate his selection of the best stories in the Old Testament. For some years he had been collecting the originals of the TIME portraits of Texans-who have appeared on our cover. When Oxford University Press agreed to publish the Old Testament stories, Publisher Harte wanted them illustrated in the new kind of journalistic portraiture that TIME and its cover artists had developed. Of our cover artists (the others are, of course, Ernest Hamlin Baker, Boris Artzybasheff and Boris Chalia-pin), Rowe was the only one who felt that he could devote all of his time to the project. Harte gave him the assignment.

Having known about the book from the beginning, TIME’S editors kept it in mind. When copies were finally available, they decided to tell the story of In Our Image and illustrate it with a color spread of Artist Rowe’s work.

Rowe says that the 3½-years he spent doing the illustrations “could hardly be called work. The project was alive.” A native of Salt Lake City, Guy Rowe was a miner, cowhand, mechanic, acrobat, lumberjack and bill collector before he became an artist. His introduction to art came via a vaudeville act in which he drew chalk portraits of people in the audience on a blackboard. He went to art school and became a commercial artist—a field in which he is remembered for the still life portraits he did in the Jello ads. In 1943 he began doing covers for TIME in addition to his other work.

His 32 illustrations of the Old Testament stories were done just like TIME cover portraits, according to Rowe. There was one difference, however, and “it really made me appreciate the help that TIME gives its artists. TIME gives you sufficient photographs of the cover subject, a physical description of him, research into his life and character, and even an idea of how to do the cover. On the Old Testament assignment I had to start from scratch. I had to interpret the figures myself from the clues given in the stories.”

Artist Rowe, Publisher Harte and the Oxford Press are now contemplating a book on the New Testament. Meanwhile, Guy Rowe is doing some TIME covers, and you can expect to see one of them soon—signed Giro.

Cordially yours,

-Admiral Nimitz, General Eisenhower, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, former Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones, etc.

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