Michener Art Museum

Charles Hargens Jr.


Charles Hargen, photo by Jack Rosen
PAINTER, PHOTOGRAPHER
BORN: August 30, 1893, Hot Springs, South Dakota
DIED: January 30, 1997, Carversville, Pennsylvania


An accomplished painter and illustrator, Charles Hargens was renowned for his scenes of the Old West. Born in 1893 and growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Hargens worked from first-hand knowledge of western life. His oil paintings were painstaking in every detail, realistically capturing the era. "I want to depict that human element and what happens to these people," he said. Many of his paintings were commissioned for book covers and illustrations, and he worked for the MacMillan and Doubleday publishing houses, among others. By no means limited to western art, Hargens designed the cover for Pearl S. Buck's book, Portrait of a Marriage, as well as covers for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Liberty, Country Gentleman, and Boy's Life. He also designed posters for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for 10 years. In 1947, Hargens was recruited to act as scoutmaster to Troop 64, a scout troop in Carversville, in which he participated until 1980. In 1981 he received the Community Service Award for Excellence in Art from the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce. In 1982, Hargens received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota. In 1993, the James A. Michener Art Museum honored Hargens with a special exhibition of his work to celebrate his 100th birthday. Hargens lived to be 103 years of age.