(1887 - 1969)
Jaques traveled many miles during his career as an artist,
but probably the longest journey, subjectively speaking, was
one be took as a boy, when he had no idea he'd ever become
a painter. His family was living in Kansas in 1906 when they
decided to move to northern Minnesota. This meant a long trek
of nearly 600 miles over primitive roads with a horse-drawn
wagon. Upon leaving Kansas they had to cross part of either
Nebraska or Missouri to reach Iowa, and then traverse that
entire state to get into Minnesota which stretches very far
north indeed when one is on foot. Mr. Jaques and his father
walked most of the way. It's no wonder that he has never hesitated,
since then, to go wherever his work took him
Lee Jaques was born in Geneseo, Illinois on September 28,
1887, the son of Ephraim Parker and Emma Jane (Monninger)
Jaques. The family went to Kansas around 1896 when he was
about nine years old and only later to Minnesota. Mr. Jaques
was a student at the School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
during 1915 and 1916 but then went into the Army as a Private
from 1917 to 1919. He did not begin work as an artist until
1920, when he was 33 years old.
In 1924 Mr. Jaques went to work for The American Museum of
Natural History in New York City. He was sent on numerous
expeditions to make sketches and collect material for murals
and panoramic background paintings for museum habitat exhibits.
He went to Panama in 1925, the Bahamas and Peru in 1926, the
Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean in 1928, England and Switzerland
in 1932, Polynesia in 1934, and South America again in 1935.
Over the years his travels have taken him from northern Alaska
to southern South America.
Using this wealth of material and sketches, he has done more
than 80 background paintings, totaling close to 30,000 square
feet. It's axiomatic that his painting cannot and should not
be thought of as so much square footage, but it does give
an indication of the thousands of hours of research, study,
and labor that went into these projects. They are enduring
testimony to the ability of Mr. Jaques and can be admired
by millions in The American Museum of Natural History in New
York City, Museum of Science in Boston, Peabody Museum in
New Haven, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Minnesota
Museum of Natural History, University of Nebraska Museum,
and similar exhibits in Texas.
On May 12, 1927, Mr. Jaques married the former Florence Sarah
Page, a talented writer who accompanied him on his travels.
Beginning in 1938 they collaborated on the production of seven
outstanding books: Canoe Country, The Geese Fly High, Birds
Across the Sky, Snowshoe Country, Canadian Spring, As Far
As the Yukon, and There Once Was a Puffin.
Among the other books illustrated by Mr. Jaques are Oceanic
Birds of South America by Dr. Robert C. Murphy, South Carolina
Bird Life, Florida Bird Life, and Outdoor Life's Gallery of
North American Game.
Mr. Jaques left the Museum in 1942, and began free-lancing
before slowly working into retirement. He did many easel paintings
in oil and had illustrations in Life, Saturday Evening Post,
Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, and other national magazines.
He is a world-famous figure, having painted wildlife subjects
for over 47 years.
Jaques' name has been so often misspelled that he came almost
to expect it and says that even his relatives sometimes put
the "c" in it by mistake. The erroneous spelling
automatically brings about mispronunciation. The proper pronunciation
is Jay-kwes with the accent on the jay and the whole rhyming
was member of the American Ornithologists Union and belongs
to the Explorers Club. He and his wife were joint recipients
of the John Burroughs Medal, an annual national award for
the best nature study book.