The Life and Works of Charles H. Twelvetrees


About Charles H. Twelvetrees: Artist and Illustrator

Charles H. Twelvetrees was born in Utica, New York in 1872 and died in New York City in 1948. Early in his career, he was a portrait artist. However, there is no record or photos of his portraiture. He began illustrating postcards around 1905.
Charles was married three times. His first wife committed suicide on the Christmas night of 1902 after a quarrel; she was 25 while he was 29. He married again and had a child, Clark, in 1905 with his second wife, Rose. His third wife, Vera, is known only from census records in the 1940s. There is no mention of family members in his obituary leading to some erroneous speculation regarding his life and career.
The New York Times obituary indicated he was 60 when he was actually 15 years older. Charles Twelvetrees’ son Clark was a mediocre actor and suffered from alcoholism. He survived a 6-story fall from a hotel room in 1927 but died in 1938 when he was knocked down in a street fight.
Clark was married for three years to Helen Jurgens, who became the internationally known actress Helen Twelvetrees. She divorced Clark in 1930.
There is a lot more behind the stories mentioned here. My book documents the details and shows images from Charles Twelvetrees’ life. This publication also records a career that encompassed more than 50 years, with at least 40 as an illustrator of mischievous children.

Speculation About Twelvetrees’ Works

Various sources have claimed that the Twelvetrees illustrations were done by a father-son team or that his name was Charles R. Twelvetrees. He signed his work with different signatures including 12trees, C. Twelvetrees, C. H. Twelvetrees, CT, and variations of each with some slanted back and some forward.
The signatures often had a lowercase “c” with a tall capital “T,” smaller letters “we,” tall “l,” small “re,” tall “t,” small “ree” and a tall “s,” (some with a small “s”), preceded or followed by a copyright year. Some of his works have been erroneously credited by a publisher to “C. R. Twelvetrees.”
This book is the result of many years collecting his work, as well as researching and compiling details and data about his family and career. It will put to rest the speculation about the artist that created those happy, sad, and clever children and creatively drawn animals.