Edwin Megargee

Edwin Megargee was an American artist who specialized in animal portraiture, with a strong emphasis on purebred canines. Born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1883, Sylvester Edwin Megargee Jr. possessed a love for animals and an undeniable talent for drawing. Despite his father’s misgivings on his profession as an artist, Megargee convinced his father to allow him to attend Drexel University for art. While at school, in 1912, he took a position as an illustrator at the Scranton International Textbook Company where he learned to hone his skill creating pictures of domestic fowl. In 1919, he moved to New York with his sister and rented a studio at Union Square. He attended classes at the Art Students’ League and became a breeder and shower of Scottish Terriers. He was a dog show judge as well. Through this connection, he gained a great deal of recognition as an artist and gained many commissions for purebred portraits. These portraits became the central focus of his paintings and helped him to become one of the most prominent canine painters.

His talent in capturing the essence of his subject, whether it was a dog or a bird, made his paintings stand apart from the others. He studied the anatomy of animals until he claims he “could have articulated the skeleton of anything from a hen to a horse.” Though dogs would become his main focus, Megargee painted horses, cattle and cock-fighting scenes as well. He stayed true to the reality of any animal, making sure not to romanticize the painting. His easy, natural demeanor with animals became useful when positioning and posing his subjects. He received many commissions, most of them from the owners of purebred show dogs. He designed the running greyhound logo on the Greyhound buses of today. His most famous commission was to paint twenty-four circular portraits of well-known pure bred dogs on the kennel doors of the United States Lines luxury ocean liner, the S. S. America.

Throughout his career, Megargee illustrated over twenty books and authored two. In 1958, his illustrations brought life to a chapter on the breed of Hounds in The National Geographic Book of Dogs, but could not finish his other commissioned chapter on the Toy breeds before his death in 1958.