Monday, May 25, 2015

Charles Dana Gibson: More Than Pretty Girls

Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944) was an American illustrator who was famous as the creator of the Gibson Girl, married well, had many important artists as friends, and earned enough money to buy an island in Maine.

He is the subject of a profile in Illustration Magazine issue 47, and his Wikipedia entry is here.

Leafing through the magazine, I soon realized that there was more to Gibson than just those Girls. The man was a master of capturing expressions on a large variety of faces. Plus he was a highly skilled pen-and-ink artist.

Some of this can be seen in the image above from Heritage Auctions. It's from the About Paris illustrations from about 1905. Note how he was able to fade the background subjects using careful linework and perhaps slightly watered-down ink.


Here is an example of a Gibson Girl.

Gibson was careful to correctly depict clothing.

Many Gibson Girls had half-closed eyes: not this one.

A group scene. Note the variety of faces.

Another group illustration.

And yet another. Looks like Oscar Wilde setting at the left, though he would have been dead were this illustration made after 1900 (I don't have its date).

Two examples of Gibson's work from around 1925-31.  Pen-and-ink was largely out of fashion in the illustration world by that time, but it was Gibson's strength. Besides, he owned Life Magazine in those days and could print whatever he pleased.

He also took up oil painting as more a hobby than a means of making money. This looks like it was made in the late 1930s. As I noted, his strength was pen-and-ink.

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