“Unlike many of his more famous contemporaries, the name of Benda is virtually unknown today. It is likely that Benda has not received the attention he deserves because his work was extremely varied, and it is difficult to pin an easy label on his prodigious output. For some observers he was known as a Western artist; by theater historians as a mask maker; and by vintage poster collectors as a poster artist.” – Mark B. Pohlad
Wladyslaw Theodor Benda (1873-1948) was born in Ponza, Poland to a very creative family; everyone involved in music and theater. He studied in both Warsaw and Vienna, which gave him a solid, traditional artistic background.
The late 19th century in Poland was a bloody and violent place and the Benda family fled, ending up in California, where he was involved in theatrical productions and became interested in the Western “types” he found there.
He was soon, however drawn to the art hub of New York and moved there, where he began drawing for magazines such as "Life," “Century,” “Scribner's,” “Woman’s Home Companion,” “Ladies’ Home Journal” and others.
We at the Laughing Elephant have long been a fan of Benda. We have a number of his magazine illustrations and currently offer two of them as cards.