William "Willy" Pogány
(Hungarian, 1882-1955)

Willy Pogany's output during his career was matched only by his appetite for new endeavors. During the near sixty years that spanned Pogany's working life, he was a book illustrator, muralist, film art director, ad man, author, portrait artist, and more. Few of his colleagues could approach the amount of the diversity of creative outlets that Pogany mastered in his lifetime.

Among Pogany's earlier works are a number of illustrated books that were praised for their design and production. These volumes are still considered works of art in their own right today. Four in particular-- Tannhäuser, Parsifal, and Lohengrin, followed by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner-- are considered to represent the peak of Golden Age book production, and are highly valued by bibliophiles and illustration fans today. While the more typical subjects of fairy tales and mythology dominated his work, he also illustrated titles as diverse as Alice in Wonderland and Browning's Sonnets for the Portugese. On more than one occasion, Pogany had the opportunity to depict tales from Hungarian Fairy Book, and later, Magyar Fairy Tales, in 1930, both of which he illustrated for his sister, Nandor.

As the political climate in Europe progressively grew unstable leading up to World War I, Pogany chose to try his luck in America, and immigrated to New York in 1915. Though he found book work there, it soon became apparent that the war's effect on social attitudes and interests had shifted the needs of the illustration market. Always one to take advantage of change, Pogany kept an eye on the up-and-coming markets, seeking new avenues for his creative work. Several New York theaters and hotels have preserved Pogany's mural work, including the August Heckscher Children's Theater, and the Eldorado Hotel. Pogany kept his hand in book illustration when he could get work, but also became a regular contributor to a number of weeklies and illustrated magazines of the day. He continued working until his death in 1955.

Menges, Jeff A. 101 Great Illustrators From the Golden Age, 1890-1925. Published by Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, 2016. p. 168.