Monday, November 30, 2020

The Versatile Philadelphian: Earl Horter

Earl Horter (1881-1940) was an illustrtor, art director, oil and watercolor painter, etcher and probably worked in other media as well.  He also was able to create a large eclectic, personal art collection that he was forced to gradually sell off during the Great Depression due to decreased income and the need to pay divorce settlement requirements (he married four times).

A quick Google search revealed little biographical information about him, though this site is fairly useful.

Besides working in many media, Horter used a variety of styles over the years, as can be seen in the images below.  So even though he was very competent, his work is not distinctly "his" due to all that variety.  That said, it should be noted that his subject matter was largely architectural or townscapes.  Almost no images featuring people could be found on the Internet.


Packard poster from around 1914.   The setting is Paris' Avenue de l'OpĂ©ra constricted to suit the dimensions of the poster.

New York's Woolworth Building Under Construction, c. 1912.

Traymore Hotel, Atlantic City, c. 1915.

Two scenes of Toledo, Spain from about 1924.  Here we see a touch of Cubist influence.

Ditto for this Delaware River Scene.

Chrysler Building Under Construction - c.1931.

City scene, also a whiff of Cubism.

Gloucester, Massachusetts scene, 1932.  Here a touch of modernist simplification, common at the time.

The Old Barn, 1939. A conventional watercolor, but limited colors.

Still Life, also from 1939, but in a Cubist style.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Sidney Paget's Sherlock Holmes Ilustrations

Sidney Edward Paget (1860-1908) was an illustrator best known for his work in The Strand Magazine where many Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared.  Paget's Wikipedia entry is here, and it has links related to Holmes if you need more background information.

Paget had other illustration work, but today I'll focus on some Holmes illustration found on the Internet.  What strikes me is how stilted they are.  Many scenes are simply of people standing and doing things such as talking or shaking hands.  There are some action scenes, but these too are surprisingly static -- nothing like what was common in American magazines by the 1903s and later.

This was not a purely Paget thing.  My recollection of American story illustrations made at around the same time is that they were staged pretty much the same way.  Possibly this was influenced by printing technology in the form of line cuts -- what was common until the later 1800s.  But by 1900 printing technology had advanced, and Paget did some Holmes illustrations in watercolor or perhaps ink washes.  These also look pretty static.

Apparently readers had been trained to expect this kind of art in magazines.


Perhaps Paget's most famous Holmes illustration.

From "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

Also from there.  Holmes shoots the hound.  Much more action than usual.

One of those greeting illustrations.

And another.

This could have had more dramatic body language.

Even this fight seems static.

A highpoint of the story, deserving of an illustration?

Holmes and Dr. Watson in a wash drawing.

It seems it was Paget, not Arthur Conan Doyle, who had Holmes wearing the deerstalker hat.

Holmes was an expert at evaluating tobacco types and sources.

Portrait of Holmes

Monday, November 23, 2020

Frank Tinsley Illustrations, Early and Late

Frank Tinsley (1899-1965) mostly illustrated aircraft and other technical subjets, though he also briefly drew a Sunday newspaper comic strip.  Several years ago I wrote about his early airplane illustrations, criticizing his drawing ability.  I also touched on his later work.

For the present post, I thought I should show more of that later, post- World War 2 work that was a considerable improvement over what he did in the 1930s.  However, some early examples are included.  Plus an example of his comic strip.

Some biographical information on Tinlsey is here.


This November 1935 magazine cover features what seems to be an imaginary fighter design using the then-fashionable "gull" or "Polish" high-wing.  The perspective is a bit off: note the tail's vertical stabilizer.

July 1935 Air Trails showing Amiot 143s, France's latest bomber -- but not a dive bomber as Tinsley's dramatic illustration suggests.

Photo of Amiot 143s.

Tinsley portrays a Grumman F2F navy fighter in March 1936.

This photo of a Marine Corps F2F was probably taken a few years later, but a similar image might have served as Tinsley's reference.

Here is his version of the Bell XFM-1 Airacuda prototype multi-place U.S. Army Air Corps fighter that first flew on 1 September 1937.  Since this Air Trails cover is dated November 1937, it appeared on news stands in October.  Which means that Tinsley made his painting at least two months before that.  Perhaps that explains the errors in depiction (see photo below).  My guess is that his only reference was a ground view showing the plane from the front, so he had to guess what the after part looked like.  Note his crude depiction of the plane's left wing and the writing on it.  (By the way, the words U.S. Army were only painted on the undersides of the wings in those days.)

Photo of a YFM-1 evaluation batch Airacuda.

Detail from a two-page postwar Mechanix Illustrated magazine spread dealing with hypothetical air cavalry personal helicopters..

Tinsley illustrated, and often wrote, speculative articles about advanced technology for Mechanix Illustrated.

Cruising over one of Mars' moons.

Unlike his prewar Air Trails work, he wasn't depicting actual equipment, so accuracy was not a priority at all.  His objects just had to appear plausible.


Two-man Army all-terrain combat machine.

Example of his early 1940s comic strip.  Tinsley was better than many comic artists when drawing people.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ernest Hamlin Baker Portraits for Time Magazine Covers

Ernest Hamlin Baker (1889-1975) was a prolific illustrator best known for his portraits work for Time Magazine covers. I wrote about him here, and David Apatoff provides useful information about him here.

Unfortunately, there otherwise seems to be little background material about him on the Internet, if a brief Google search is any guide.

Below are examples of Time cover portrait art, mostly from the 1940s and World War 2.


Dwight Eisenhower
Probably painted when he was President.

Benito Mussolini - 1941
The Italian dictator.

General Sir Harold Alexander
When in command of the Mediterranean theatre for Britain.

General Erwin Rommel - c. 1942
The Desert Fox.

Winston Churchill - 1949
For Time's "Man of the Half-Century" cover that appeared around the start of 1950.

Henry Ford - 1941
Showing Ford Motor Company's gearing up for war production.

Alfred P. Sloan
Chairman of General Motors.  Again having to do with conversion from cars to weapons.

George Marshall
Probably when he was Secretary of State.

Juan and Evita Peron
Argentina's Dictator.

Oveta Culp Hobby - 1944
Col. Hobby led the Woman's Army Corps during the war.

Groucho Marx - 1951
The comedian.  A slightly colorized version of this drawing (or a nearly identical one) was on Time's last 1951 cover.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Philip Castle's "Aviation" Airbrush Art

Philip Castle (b. 1942 or 1943) is a British illutrator best known for film posters.  I know him better for his somewhat not-safe-for-work airbrush images of aircraft, women, and the occasional automobile.   Biographical information is skimpy on the Internet, as exemplified by his brief Wikipedia entry.

There are some interviews of him, but they largely deal with those movie posters.  However, in one he mentioned that nowadays it is easy to create digital images of the kind he labored over using his airbrush.

It is also worth noting that although Castle is an Englishman, most of the images below are of American aircraft and cars.  Perhaps that's because their designs are flashier than their British equivalents.

Many images below might not be safe for viewing at work in an office setting.


Castle's classic poster for "Clockwork Orange."

Cover of a book I once owned.  Featured are F-15 fighters.

Another cover, this with a Navy F/A-18

This shows aircraft from a variety of eras.  These include a British Handley Page Heyford biplane bomber and a Vought F6U Cutlass fighter.

Chromed young woman.

Six-armed woman with B-1 bombers, a moth and the rear fender of a 1957 Dodge.

Fragment of a larger work.  The aircraft are F-16s.

Winged ladies and B-1 bombers.

This features French content.  The car is a postwar Delahaye 175 by Saoutchik.  Aircraft are French bombers of the 1930s.  Nearest is a Farman 221.  At the top, an Amiot 143.  Others are harder to identify.