Born in 1866, Edward Penfield attended the Art Students League in New York where his work was discovered by an associate editor of Harper’s Magazine.
Penfield introduced avant-garde to the American public. His art nouveau poster for Harper's downplayed the dramatic curving lines of the European version and emphasized flat areas similar to aesthetics of Japanese prints and the work of the Post-Impressionists, especially Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
After Harper’s, Penfield continued his commercial work for other publications including Collier’s, Life, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, and Scribner’s. His artwork includes the murals at Harvard University and the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. In 1916, he began teaching at the Art Students League, and, by 1921, he was the most influential member of the Society of Illustrators in New York. Penfield died in 1925.