Artist Spotlight: Albert Hirschfeld

  • Artist Spotlight
  • Fine Art

This May at Clars we are proud to present a collection of works by master caricaturist — Albert Hirschfeld — who is known for his depictions of twentieth-century pop culture icons.


Hirschfeld was born in 1903 and was raised in New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. Hirschfeld furthered his artistic studies in Europe, and upon returning to the United States he was commissioned by the New York Herald Tribune to create cartoons to accompany their articles. This early exposure led to a long career of illustration in publications, including The New York Times, TV Guide, American Mercury, and Life Magazine.


Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Harry Truman: I'm Sitting on Top of the World, 1954, gouache and ink on paper, published for the cover of Colliers Magazine January 20, 1954, 15″ x 12.5″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Harry Truman: I’m Sitting on Top of the World, 1954, gouache and ink on paper, published for the cover of Colliers Magazine January 20, 1954, 15″ x 12.5″.
Estimate: $3,000–$5,000

Perhaps Hirschfeld’s most well-known work is his illustrations of theater and film actors, often featured on Broadway playbills. Some of Hirschfeld’s credits include playbills for productions of Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady, and Hello, Dolly!. Hirschfeld’s most famous actor portraits include those of Marilyn Monroe, Groucho Marx, Liza Minelli, and Barbara Streisand. In 2023, Clars offered the collection of iconic performer Rita Moreno, which included personalized illustrations by Hirschfeld of the actress in the films West Side Story and The Ritz. Hirschfeld also drew many popular musicians of the mid-twentieth century, including Ella Fitzgerald, Jerry Garcia, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley.


Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), <em>Joseph McCarthy Extinguishes Flame on the Statue of Liberty</em>, 1950, gouache on paper, published by <em>Collier</em> July 15, 1950, 13.25″ x 12.5″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Joseph McCarthy Extinguishes Flame on the Statue of Liberty, 1950, gouache on paper, published by Collier July 15, 1950, 13.25″ x 12.5″.
Estimate: $2,000–$4,000
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Harry Truman and Bernard Baruch, He'd Rather Write than Be President, circa 1945, watercolor and ink on paper, 16″ x 13″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Harry Truman and Bernard Baruch, He’d Rather Write than Be President, circa 1945, watercolor and ink on paper, 16″ x 13″.
Estimate: $1,500–$2,000

Hirschfeld was known for his sense of humor and the playfulness in his art. With the birth of his daughter Nina in 1945, he started including her name hidden in many of his highly circulated drawings. After he decided to stop what he called the “harmless insanity” of camouflaging her name is his cartoons, The New York Times was inundated with letters demanding he continue the practice, and it became a pop culture phenomenon in itself. In the 1999 animated Disney film Fantasia 2000, a segment inspired by Hirschfeld’s work includes a hidden “NINA” in a tube of toothpaste.


Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Joseph Stalin, 1946, pencil and gouache on paper, published for the cover of The American Mercury Magazine January 1946, 15.5″ x 11″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Joseph Stalin, 1946, pencil and gouache on paper, published for the cover of The American Mercury Magazine January 1946, 15.5″ x 11″.
Estimate: $2,000–$4,000
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper, published for the cover of The American Mercury Magazine, July 1, 1945, 15.25″ x 10.75″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper, published for the cover of The American Mercury Magazine, July 1, 1945, 15.25″ x 10.75″.
Estimate: $2,000–$4,000

He was commissioned to design the 1991 USPS stamp collection featuring American comedians, including a favorite subject of his, the comic pair Laurel and Hardy. This month’s collection includes a lithograph depicting the duo, as well as a number of other prints, ink drawings, and rare gouache portrayals of political figures. The gouaches were created as cover illustrations for Colliers and American Mercury Magazine, and the figures include Dwight Eisenhower, Josef Stalin, Harry Truman, Joseph McCarthy, and others. Join us on May 17th to bid on these exclusive pieces.


Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), <em>Laurel and Hardy</em>, lithograph in colors, 25″ x 18.5″.
Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Laurel and Hardy, lithograph in colors, 25″ x 18.5″.
Estimate: $500–$700
(lot of 2) Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), <em>Great American Songwriters</em> and <em>Great American Singers</em>, lithographs, (each): 18.75″ x 18.5″.
(lot of 2) Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903–2003), Great American Songwriters and Great American Singers, lithographs, each: 18.75″ x 18.5″.
Estimate: $600–$900

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