Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dan Sayre Groesbeck: Illustrator, Muralist, Man of Mystery

Dan Sayre Groesbeck (1879 - 1950), illustrator, muralist and Hollywood movie industry artist, was born and died in California, is known to have served in Russia's east coast while in the Canadian army, but much of his first 40 years of life is poorly documented and was subject to exaggerations and other distortions by the man. His formal art training seems to have been minimal, but he succeeded because he had a knack for capturing people's looks, clothing styles and, especially, visualizing dramatic situations and settings. Which is why he became the go-to concept artist for famed director Cecil B. DeMille and others from the early 1920s until his death.

As noted, Groesbeck's life and half of his career are difficult to pin down, but I offer this link as a reasonably good source.

Here are examples showing Groesbeck's mature style.


Three apparently related illustrations of women costumed with large headgear.

Large painting/mural titled "Landing of Cabrillo" at the site of the future Santa Barbara. This was painted for a Santa Barbara bank, but spent years in the county courthouse as noted here.

Groesbeck painted a set of large murals for the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, an outstanding example of 1920s Spanish Revival architecture. Above is the left hand segment of a larger mural.

This seems to be concept art for a movie. Its title seems to be "Abigail Hale on trial at the Old Bailey for 'Unconquered'."

Costume design for Edna May Oliver as Nurse in "Romeo and Juliet." 1936.

Vladimir Sokoloff as Anselmo in "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Depiction of Akim Tamiroff as Dominique You in "The Buccaneer."


Unknown said...

I have a book "The Dickens Year Book" illustrated by him. A.C. McClurg & Co 1913

Anonymous said...

Groesbeck also illustrated an edition of CASEY AT THE BAT for A. C. McClurg & Co. in 1912.