Curtis Charles Senf was born on July 30, 1873 in Rosslau, Prussia. His father, Constantine Ernst Senf, was born 1849 in Prussia. His mother, Rosette Senf, was also born 1849 in Prussia. They married in 1872 and had four children. Curtis was their first born. His younger sister Gertrude was born in 1875. Their brother Robert was born in 1876, and their youngest sister Elise was born in 1880.
In 1881 the Senf family emigrated to America on the S.S. Wieland. They landed in New York City on June 28 and settled in Chicago, Illinois. His father's occupation was listed only as "workman."
He attended school in Chicago and after completing high school in 1892 he studied art at the Chicago Art Institute.
In 1896 he joined the Palette and Chisel Club, members of which were mostly professional artists and alumni of the Chicago Art Institute. Sunday mornings at nine o'clock the members assembled in the studio of Lorado Taft in the Athenaeum building for five hours of life class. This artists club has lasted for over one hundred years. Other pulp artists that later became members of the Platte and Chisel Club include Frank Hoban, Joy Clinton Shepherd, and James Allen St. John.
On June 29, 1898 Curtis C. Senf married Harriet "Hattie" Loesch in St. Paul's Church. She was born November 22, 1878 in Berlin, Germany. She and her family emigrated to America in 1884 and settled in Chicago.
After the honeymoon the newlyweds moved to 3121 Southport Avenue. In 1902 his daughter Ruth was born, and two years later Evelyn.
He opened an art agency called Senf & Company with a business partner Fred S. Gould. They sold illustrations to the Chicago newspaper advertising industry. His younger brother Robert Senf also worked for them as a staff artist. The business was located in suite #703 of the Pontiac building at 358 Dearborn Avenue. The business lasted only three years. In 1903 Senf & Co. went bankrupt with over two thousand dollars in unpaid debts. They closed the art agency and C. C. Senf moved to a modest art studio at 725 South Wells Street.
During the Great War he was too old to serve in the military, but as required by law he registered with the selective service on September 12, 1918, at which time he was recorded to be forty-five years old, short, medium build, with brown eyes and dark hair.
By 1925 his older daughter Ruth had married and moved away from home, while his younger daughter Evelyn still lived at home. She worked as a secretary at a Chicago moving picture corporation.
By 1926 he was able prosperous enough to buy a home for $15,000, where they lived at 6418 Glenwood Avenue in Chicago.
In 1927 he began to paint covers and draw pen and ink story illustrations for Weird Tales, an innovative pulp magazine that featured otherworldly and macabre subjects. He drew hundreds of black-and-white interior story illustrations, and he painted forty-five covers for Weird Tales, the last of which appeared on the July 1932 issue. Other pulp artists who painted covers for this long-running magazine were Joe Doolin, James Allen St. John and, Margaret Brundage.
After leaving the pulps, he returned to a more lucrative career as a commercial artist in the Chicago advertising industry.
On March 23, 1946 his wife Harriet died in Chicago at the age of sixty-seven.
Curtis C. Senf died in Chicago at the age of seventy-five on April 24, 1949.
© David Saunders 2011