John August Groth (1908-1988) was an American painter and illustrator who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1927, Arnold Gingrich, founding editor of ‘Esquire Magazine’, saw Groth’s work at an outdoor art fair and hired him to illustrate the first issue of the magazine and gave him a job as its art director. Groth’s work was primarily focused on sports and war. He used a style technique called ‘speed line’, in which he sketched his subjects using rough, unperfected lines and then filled the lines in with watercolors. Ernest Hemmingway, whom Groth spent time with during World War II, wrote, “None of us understood the sort of shorthand he sketched in. The men would look at the sketches and see just a lot of lines. It was a great pleasure to find what fine drawings they were when we got to see them.” So impressed was Hemingway by Groth, he said, “He gets to the essence of war.”
In 1945, Groth published ‘Studio: Europe’, a collection of drawings made during World War II with an introduction by Hemingway. ‘Studio: Asia’, his experiences of the Korean War and travels to Japan, China, and Indochina came out in 1952 and ‘John Groth’s World of Sport’ with everything from boxing and baseball to unusual sports from far-flung corners of the world was published in 1970. He first visited Ceylon in 1962.