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James A. Ernst

To purchase the work of James Ernst please call M. Estabrook at (781)-461-2676.

James A. Ernst was born on August 5, 1916 in New York City, the second son of immigrants from Austria and Germany.  His father was a lawyer.  When he was a child his family moved to Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County, NY.  At the age of thirteen in 1929 he traveled with his family to visit relatives in Germany and two years late returned there to study.  In 1934 he graduated from Hastings High School in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and was awarded a $150 Art Scholarship to attend Syracuse University College of Fine Arts.  He chose however to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he studied to become a professional illustrator.  Upon graduation in 1937 he wrote by his yearbook photo, “I will never miss a line, though my stomach may fast, I think I have a future, although I have no past.”

His black and white pen-and-ink story illustrations appeared in pulp magazines, such as Mystery Tales, Star Detective, 10-Story Detective, and Blue Book.  He also drew illustrations for the innovative magazine PM.  In 1941 he entered military service.  In 1943 he was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant, married Patricia MacCine Healy, and resumed his career as a freelance artist drawing illustrations for Blue Book.  His watercolor paintings were exhibited at NYC art galleries.

In 1952 he joined the faculty of the Extension School of General Studies of City College of New York.  His 1962 book, “Drawing The Line – Fine and Commercial Art” was published by Reinhold.  In 1965 he lectured on art at the Donnell Library and became the Assistant Supervisor of the New York Public Library’s Art Education Project.

James A. Ernst died on September 14, 1989 in Vero Beach, Florida. His oil and watercolor paintings, prints and drawings have been handled by Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers and Swan Auction galleries in New York City, Harlowe-Powell Auction Gallery in Charlottesville, VA, Quinn’s Auction in Falls Church, VA, Bill Hood & Sons–Arts & Antiques in Del Ry Beach, FL and