William M. Auerbach-Levy
An award-winning etcher and painter, William M. Auerbach-Levy was best known as one of the leading caricaturists of the first half of the 20th century, whose many depictions of the celebrities of the time were published in New York City newspapers and national magazines. Born William Auerbach in Brest-Litovsk, Russia (now Brest, Belorussia) in 1889, his family immigrated to the United States around 1894. After arrival his father adopted the surname Levy. He attended public schools in New York City’s Lower East Side, where a teacher recognized his artistic talent and arranged for Auerbach-Levy to also attend classes at the National Academy of Design at age eleven. He also loved playing checkers, and won the citywide public school championship in 1914. Although he won prizes for his etchings, his parents insisted that he attend City College of New York while continuing to attend the National Academy. After college graduation he won a traveling scholarship from the National Academy in 1911. Auerbach-Levy used the scholarship to go to Paris to study at Académie Julian under the painter and illustrator Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921). After returning to New York he taught at the National Academy, the Art Students League and the Educational Alliance Art School. He began drawing for the New York World newspaper, and later for The New Yorker, Collier’s, The New York Post, Esquire and Theater Arts. He left his teaching post at the National Academy in 1934. A very prolific artist, he specialized in luminaries in the world of theater, but also drew caricatures of such celebrities as H. L. Mencken, Ring Lardner, Norman Rockefeller, Babe Ruth, and Frank Sinatra. Auerbach-Levy continued to draw until he died of a heart attack in 1964 in Ossining, N.Y.