Thomas Victor Hall was born May 30, 1879 in Rising Sun, Indiana. His father, Matthias R. Hall, was born 1843 in Illinois. His mother, Mary Matilda Hall, was born 1846 in Indiana. His parents married in 1863 and had seven children, of which six survived infancy. Eugene (b.1866), William (b.1868), Mabel (b.1872), Izora (b.1874), Thomas (b.1879), and Eva (b.1882). The family lived at 97 Poplar Street in Rising Sun. His father was a carpenter.
While still young children Thomas and his little sister Eva both demonstrated an extraordinary natural talent for drawing. As was the custom of the time, they both finished schooling after having completed the 8th grade and then concentrated on careers as professional artists. It is unknown if his sister was eventually able to fulfil her own creative ambitions.
In 1896 the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father found work as a carpenter. The family lived at 2513 Auburn Avenue.
In 1898 Thomas studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy with Vincent Nowottny (1854-1908), Lewis Henry Meakin (1850-1917), and Frank Duveneck (1848-1919).
After he completed art school training he moved to New York City to follow his career as a freelance illustrator.
In the first decade of the 1900s he sold pen and ink drawings to newspapers, such as The New York Sun, The New York Herald, The New York Tribune, and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
He lived in a rooming house at 57 West 37th Street with ten other unmarried lodgers.
His illustrations also appeared in magazines, such as St. Nicholas, The Scrap Book, The Argosy, All-Story, People's Home Journal, Life, and Pearson's Magazine.
His closest friend was the newspaper artist C. W. Svensson, who was a founding member of the Kit Kat Club, on 25th Street and Lexington Avenue. It was one of the first private clubs for professional artists in America. It where professional artists could relax, socialize, drink, and sketch from a nude model every Monday and Thursday evening at 8pm.
In May of 1914 he sailed to Europe, where to study art and museums in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and England. While in Europe he continued to sell illustrations to magazines.
In 1915 he illustrated Wounded Pierrot by Walter Adolphe Roberts for Life Magazine. This author was also an editor at Semi-Monthly Magazine. Roberts was so impressed with Hall's artistry that he offered the artist an exclusive contract to work as his personal illustrator during a two year exploration of war-torn Europe from 1918 to 1920
After those two years he returned to NYC and lived at 115 East 34th Street, where he lived and worked from 1920 to 1922, but on May 11, 1922 he again returned to Europe. He sailed on the S.S. Chicago.
While in Paris on February 1923 he married Josephine Helen André Maxine. She was an artist, born 1895 in France. After their marriage they sailed to NYC on the S.S. LaSavoie and arrived on April 4, 1923. They moved to 128 West 34th Street.
During the 1920s his line drawings appeared in pulp magazines, such as Adventure Magazine, Clues Detective, Love Story, Brief Stories, Triple-X Magazine.
In 1925 they moved to 294 West 11th Street.
In 1930 they moved to 203 West 14th Street.
During the 1930s he illustrated hundreds of mystery and detective stories in pulp magazines, such as Complete Underworld Novelettes, Detective Story, and Detective Fiction Weekly.
In 1934 he wrote and illustrated First Steps in Pictorial Composition, an instructional art book produced by the Pitman Publishing Company of New York. In the concluding chapter he says, "It has been no part of the author's plan to set up strict rules of composition, since rules are only made to be broken, but rather to suggest the application of certain established principles which have become accepted as sound, and always with the intention of encouraging the young student to think and see for oneself. This feeling for arrangement, which most of us possess subconsciously, is the faculty the young artist will need more particularly than a command of technique, which is usually the first thing observed and envied in the work of those who have "arrived." This, and a patiently acquired ability to draw, together with the experience which will accumulate as time goes on, should enable the earnest student to assert oneself in this field of endeavor, and to become an individual, no matter in what direction one's fancy may lead."
In 1935 they lived at 167 East 37th Street.
April 25, 1942 registered with his local draft board, at which time he was recorded to sixty-three, five-eleven, 150 pounds, with blue eyes and gray hair. He also had one mole on his left check and another mole on his chin.
During WWII he painted patriotic posters.
After the war he moved to Peekskill, NY, which is located along the Hudson River in Upstate New York, just across from Bear Mountain. He retired from commercial illustration and concentrated on painting landscapes of surrounding New England. Other artists that lived nearby included, John Newton Howitt, Frederick T. Everett, and Oren R. Waggener, all of whom were equally inspired to paint local landscapes and exhibit in local annual art shows.
Thomas Victor Hall died in New York City at the age of seventy-nine on September 29, 1958.
© David Saunders 2013