Monday, August 5, 2013

Up Close: Mead Schaeffer (4)

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 Mead Schaeffer (1898-1980) when he was following the style that gained him success as an illustrator. Additional information on Schaeffer is here. Previous posts about Schaeffer in this series are here, here and here.

Featured here is an illustration for "Lucy of Limehouse: Greater Love Hath No Man -- or Woman" by Samuel Bertram Haworth Hurst in the August 1933 issue of Good Housekeeping 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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"I want to see Nick."

The reference image from someplace on the Internet was the one I was familiar with, so it surprised me to find the Kelly original with subdued colors. I prefer the altered version. The detail image shows the bold, but more controlled brushwork Schaeffer was using by the early 1930s in contrast to some of his 1920s swashbuckler illustrations for books. By the 1940s, his style evolved to sedate, "just the facts, ma'am" artwork that was of course competently done, though not as interesting (to me, anyway) as his earlier work.

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