Joseph Francis Kernan, a magazine illustrator for forty years during the golden age of that art and saddled with the nickname “the poor man’s Norman Rockwell” — was born in 1878 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He paid for his studies in Boston at the Eric Pape School of Art, where he later taught for two years, by playing professional baseball.
True to his own sporting interests, Kernan favored outdoor scenes of sports, fishing, hunting and dogs. One of his paintings of an English Setter is in the art collection of the DeCoverly Kennels, outside Scranton, Pennsylvania, which specializes in that breed of dog.
Kernan’s paintings appeared on the covers of magazines including Collier’s, Liberty, The Saturday Evening Post, The Country Gentleman, Capper’s Farmer, The Elks, Outdoor Life, and the Associated Sunday Magazines. His work was also commissioned for calendars and advertisers such as International Harvester, Fisk Tires and Pratt & Lambert Varnishes, for which he painted an ad in 1926 of two boys by a Christmas tree on a highly polished floor.
Kernan’s painting of a fly fisherman wading in a stream was included in The Sporting View: American Sporting Art from the Collection of Robert B. Mayo, an exhibition at the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.
Joseph Francis Kernan died in 1958.