William Sharp

A Look at the World

William Sharp was born Leon Schleifer on June 13, 1900 in Lemberg, Austria where he attended the Academy for Arts, later continuing his education in Kraków, Berlin and Munich. His early artistic career focused on stained glass and murals, however at the advent of WWI, Sharp joined the German Army and it was after this service that he transitioned to work as an etcher and newspaper artist, where his brash anti-Hitler political cartoons drew the attention of the burgeoning National Socialist party. As the Nazi regime grew and intensified, he began to publish under a pseudonym but threats of imprisonment within a concentration camp forced Sharp to escape to the United States in 1934.

Once in the U.S., he began making courtroom sketches, his first assignment being the trial of Bruno R. Haptmann for the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. He went on to work as a staff artist for Esquire and a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Life, Colliers, Coronet and the New York Post. Additionally, Sharp illustrated stories by Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Mann as well as assignments from several leading publishers such as Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop and The Diary of Samuel Pepys before his death on April 1, 1961. His works are currently included in the collections of many national institutions, notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Institute and the New York Public Library.