Sunday, October 12, 2014

They Should Have Been in Weird Tales: Anthony Angarola (1893-1929)

In a letter to Richard Ely Morse, dated July 28, 1932, H.P. Lovecraft wrote:
Sorry to hear that Angarola is dead. He almost illustrated my "Outsider"—that is, he read it & told Wright he'd like to illustrate it just after the present illustration had been made & purchased!
Lovecraft had been an admirer of Angarola for many years prior to writing that letter and mentioned him in two stories. From "Pickman's Model" (1926):
There’s something those fellows catch—beyond life—that they’re able to make us catch for a second. Doré had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. And Pickman had it as no man ever had it before or—I hope to heaven—ever will again.
From "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928):
In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an acre’s extent, clear of trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and twisted a more indescribable horde of human abnormality than any but a Sime or an Angarola could paint.
Wright was of course Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales from 1924 to 1940. Doré was Gustave Doré (1832-1883), a French artist known for his woodcuts illustrating a large number of literary works, including Paradise Lost (which Lovecraft mentioned in a letter to Rheinhart Kleiner dated November 16, 1916). Sime was Sidney Sime (1867-1941), a British artist and an illustrator of works by Lord Dunsany, William Hope Hodgson, and Arthur Machen. Angarola was of course Anthony Angarola, about whom I wrote in my posting on Ben Hecht and about whom I'll write a little more today.

In his letter to Richard Ely Morse, Lovecraft mentioned that Angarola wanted to illustrate his story "The Outsider." Written in 1921 but not published until April 1926 in Weird Tales, "The Outsider" is one of Lovecraft's most famous stories, perhaps his signature story. If Angarola read it before it was published, he may have known the editor of the magazine, Farnsworth Wright, either personally or by correspondence. I say may have because it's possible that Angarola read the story without Lovecraft's or Wright's knowledge. And thereby hangs a tale.

Son of Italian immigrants, Anthony or Antonio Angarola was born on February 4, 1893, in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and taught at a number of art schools throughout the Midwest, including the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee (1921), the Minneapolis School of Art (1922-1925), the Art Institute of Chicago (summers 1926-1928), and the Kansas City Art Institute (1926-1929). According to Eleanor Jewett of the Chicago Tribune, "His pupils adored him." (1)

In the spring of 1916, Anthony Angarola met a young pianist, Marie Ambrosius. Over the next year and a half the two carried on a courtship and correspondence that culminated in a secret wedding in Elgin, Illinois, in August 1917. Together they had two children, Yvonne C. and Richard Anthony Angarola, but the marriage didn't last. In 1923, Marie Ambrosius Angarola's childhood guardians, Robert Ambrosius and his sister, Katherine Ambrosius, "engineered her divorce from Angarola." (2) Alone, wifeless, and childless, he carried on, teaching, painting, drawing, and traveling. From September 1928 to August 1929, he was in Europe on a whirlwind tour of painting under a Guggenheim Fellowship. While in France, he was involved in a car accident and spent some time in the hospital.

Angarola returned to the United States in August 1929, arriving in New York on August 2, then taking a train to Chicago. He dropped off his trunk at the Bradley Hotel and rushed to his daughter's birthday celebration in Glen Lake, Michigan, on August 8. The artist returned once again to Chicago on August 13. Four days later, on August 17, 1929, Anthony Angarola died at the Bradley Hotel of the results of his accident of many weeks or months before. He was just thirty-six years old.

The Chicago art world was shocked by the sudden loss of a greatly admired artist and mourned him for years afterward. When he died, Angarola was engaged to another artist and a former student, Belle Baranceanu. She was devastated by his death but carried on without him. Like her lost fiancé, she was a painter and a teacher. She lived out her life, unmarried, in California.

In 1924, Anthony Angarola's illustrations were published in The Kingdom of Evil, A Continuation of the Journal of Fantazius Mallare by Ben Hecht. It seems almost certain to me that H.P. Lovecraft first knew of Angarola's work through that book. From 1922 to the end of September 1925, Angarola taught at the Minneapolis School of Art. In June 1926, he landed a short-term position with the Art Institute of Chicago. (Angarola taught summer courses there in 1926-1928). In October 1926, he began work at the Kansas City Art institute and remained in that position almost three years. Even while he was away--in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, or Kansas City--he remained connected to the Chicago art world. 

In 1926, Farnsworth Wright was presumably back and forth between Indianapolis and Chicago, for the offices of Weird Tales didn't make the full move to Chicago until late that year. As an editor with no art director, Wright would always have been on the lookout for new artists for his magazine. Indianapolis had the Herron School of Art and plenty of commercial artists. Chicago on the other hand had its Art Institute and a much more bustling art scene. Anthony Angarola never contributed illustrations to Weird Tales. As H.P. Lovecraft later wrote, "He almost illustrated my 'Outsider,'—that is, he read it & told Wright he'd like to illustrate it." Unfortunately he was too late. Another Chicago artist had completed the job, and it was her work that appeared in Weird Tales in April 1926. She had previously illustrated "The Red Ether" (Part One) by Pettersen Marzoni and "The Other Half" by Edwin L. Sabin, both in the February 1926 issue of the magazine. Her illustration for "The Outsider" was her third and last for Weird Tales. The artist's name was Belle Goldschlager and she had been a student of Anthony Angarola at the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

I said that Angarola may have read "The Outsider" without Lovecraft's or Wright's knowledge. That's only speculation. A manuscript would probably have been in the possession of his student and the illustrator of the story, Belle Goldschlager. If so, it would also have been in the hands of his future fiancée, Belle Baranceanu, for Belle Goldschlager and Belle Baranceanu were one in the same person.

(1) "Two Memorial Exhibitions: Work of Tennessee Anderson and Anthony Angarola on View Local Galleries" by Eleanor Jewett, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 22, 1931, p. H4.
(2) From "Anthony Angarola (1893-1929)" by Richard Angarola, Connie Poore, and Joel Dryer writing for the Illinois Historical Art Project at:

An illustration by Anthony Angarola from The Kingdom of Evil, A Continuation of the Journal of Fantazius Mallare by Ben Hecht (1924).
"Bench Lizards," a more conventional piece by Angarola (1926). Images of Angarola's art are hard to come by on the Internet. I wish I had more to offer.
Anthony Angarola (1893-1929)
Richard Angarola (1920-2008), son of the artist and a character actor in movies and television. Angarola was in lots of TV shows, often in ethnic roles. His credits include episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, My Living Doll, Honey West, The Rat Patrol, It Takes a Thief, and Mission: Impossible

Happy Columbus Day to Italian-Americans Everywhere!

Text and captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

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