By Sandra Hutchinson
Note: This article was originally published in 2000 in The Chronicle newspaper’s Glens Falls Magazine. Several people I interviewed for the article are now deceased — Donna Lundgren, Catherine (Katie) Birdsall, and both Dan and Sara Robertson. William Smith, who took the photos on which Mr. Crockwell based his illustrations, died in 2005. Mr. Crockwell’s daughter, Margaret (Sister Mary), passed away in 2015. This article was reprinted and distributed by the Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls in 2016 in conjunction with its exhibit The Other Rockwell: Douglass Crockwell.
Additional note: Johanna Crockwell, who generously helped me as I researched this article, passed away in December, 2016. Jane Caffry Hawn passed away in April, 2018.
Spencer Douglass Crockwell, who died in 1968 at the age of 64, was a significant and fascinating figure in the recent history of Glens Falls. His story is more complex than many people realize, and reaches far beyond our own community into the larger world of 20th century American art.
It’s a tale, in part, of phenomenal success as a commercial artist. Operating from his studio on East Sanford Street, Mr. Crockwell created illustrations that frequently became covers of Saturday Evening Post magazine, as well as seeing wide use in advertising, calendars, murals and portraiture. It’s estimated that his images were reproduced 3 billion times and that some 450 of his oil paintings were turned into full-page, full-color illustrations.