Monday, May 27, 2013

Up Close: Dean Cornwell (1)

This is part of an occasional series dealing with detail images of paintings featuring the brushwork of the artist. Previous posts can be found via the "Up close" topic label link on the sidebar.

The present post deals with Dean Cornwell (1892-1960) when he was following the style that gained him success as an illustrator. I discussed the later evolution of Cornwell's style here.

Featured here is an illustration for an April, 1923 Cosmopolitan magazine story titled "Garden of Peril" by Cynthia Stockley.

The source of the detail image is explained below:

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The Kelly Collection has what is probably the outstanding holding of American illustration art by private individuals (not organizations). I was able to view part of it at The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California towards the end of a January 12 - March 31, 2013 exhibition run. The collection concentrates on illustration art created roughly 1890-1935 and one of its purposes is to further knowledge and appreciation of illustration from that era.

Non-flash photography was allowed, so I took a large number of high-resolution photos of segments of those original works. This was to reference the artists' techniques in a manner not always easy to obtain from printed reproductions. (However, the exhibition catalog does feature a few large-scale detail reproductions.)

I thought that readers of this blog might also be interested in seeing the brushwork of master illustrators up close to increase their understanding of how the artists worked and perhaps to serve as inspiration for their own painting if they too are artists.

Below is an image of the entire illustration coupled with my work. Click on the latter to enlarge.

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Peril Kelley - c.1923
This image is from the Kelly Collection website.

If you can enlarge the detail image you'll notice that while the surface is mostly painted thickly, there are a few places where the canvas has only a thin oil wash and, here and there, tiny bare spots show through. Cornwell's brushwork is free and details of the scene are suggested rather than delineated. The exception is Kelley's face which, along with the face of the girl, is the focus.

Update: As you'll see in Comments, Elizabeth Alberding of the Kelly Collection explains that Peril Kelley is actually the woman. The bloke in the pith helmet is called Punch Hasseltine. (If only Cynthia Stockley had named her Peril Pauline ....)


Elizabeth Alberding, Collections Mananger of the Kelly Collection said...

We are so glad that you enjoyed the show at the Weisman. Cornwell is one of my favorite artists. The girl however is Peril Kelly and the man is Punch Hasseltine.

Donald Pittenger said...

Elizabeth -- Thank you for the heads-up. I'll post a correction.