Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Up Close: James E. Allen

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 James Edward Allen (1894-1964), who spent much of his career creating lithographs as well as illustrations. Maybe that's why I wasn't aware of him until I saw one of his works in the exhibit mentioned below.

Featured here is an illustration for "A Carolan Comes Home" by Mary Synon in the January 1929 Ladies' Home Journal magazine.

The source of the detail images 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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This image is from the Kelly Collection website.

The composition of this painting is odd, but perhaps it makes sense in terms of the story being illustrated. That aside, the detail photo suggests that Allen had a nice touch as an oil painter. Like Dean Cornwell, Mead Schaeffer and many others dealt with in this series, he painted both thickly and comparatively freely: note the treatment of background items.

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