Dean Cornwell - signature has always been one of our favorite artists.

A student of both Harvey Dunn and Frank Brangwyn, Cornwell was equally at home with illustrations and murals. Born in 1892, we've seen his cartoon work in Caricature - The Wit and Humor of a Nation, a compilation of material from Judge, as early as 1912.

Dean Cornwell - city of the great kingIn the 20's, his work could often be found in Cosmopolitan Magazine providing large, dynamic illustrations for serialized novels and later in the books into which they were compiled. The image at left is from The City of the Great King which, along with The Man of Galilee, presented a dozen large color images each. Other minor treasures of the decade are found in the novels of Peter B. Kyne and Oliver Curwood, which contained an image or three by Cornwell from their original magazine appearances. Though often in color in Cosmo, the book versions were often shown in two- or three-color versions. By the end of the decade, he was working in all of the popular publications of the period. Magazines from this era are so cool, I wish there was some way to see every issue of every magazine. Look for the above two book titles, plus fiction titles such as Never the Twain Shall Meet, The Enchanted Hill and The Pride of Palomar - all by Peter B. Kyne. Many of them were issued with color Cornwell dustjackets as well.

By the 30's and 40's, Dean Cornwell was a household name. His patriotic war posters and full-page color advertisements were everywhere: Seagrams Whiskey, General Motors, and Coca Cola - to name a few.
Dean Cornwell - Coca Cola ad

Cornwell's Conquerors of Yellow FeverHe created a series of placards commemorating great moments in medicine for Wyeth and Brother. The image at left is "Conquerors of Yellow Fever". Every drugstore in America was happy to display them in their windows, giving more visibility to Cornwell's art. Today almost every example of these images is found in a sun-faded state. The perils of popularity. [click here for the other five.]

Dean Cornwell - Iron Gate Cornwell executed some wonderful murals, some of which can still be seen in the Los Angeles Library. He was a president of the Society of Illustrators from 1922-1926, a member of the Dutch Treat Club from at least 1927 to 1949, and a frequenter of "The 21 Club" in New York, for which he provided the painting at left which appears in The Iron Gate of Jack & Charles "21", the 1950 Memorial Edition. Said book also contains "Venus and the organ player - with apologies to Titian" by Cornwell.

In 1947 and 1952 he returned to images of the Near East with illustrations for Lloyd Douglas' two immensely popular novels, The Robe and The Big Fisherman. Each title contained eight double-page color paintings crafted at the height of his talent. We prefer the first Houghton-Mifflin editions, personally, but even the editions from The Peoples Book Club provide striking testimony to the talent of this great artist.


Dean Cornwell - self portrait
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Find out more about Dean Cornwell:

Dean Cornwell - Dean of Illustrators Patricia Janis Broder, 1978 Balance House/Watson-Guptill
Forty Illustrators and How They Work Ernest W. Watson, 1945 Watson-Guptill
The Illustrator in America 1880 to 1980 Walt and Roger Reed, 1984 Madison Square Press
The Illustrator in America 1900-1960's Walt Reed, 1966 Reinhold
200 Years of American Illustration Henry Pitz, 1977 Random House
Step-By-Step Graphics Vol. 3, No. 3 Mar/Apr 1987. Learning From Masters of the Past - By Walt & Roger Reed
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 1997
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of ImageS B&W 2 Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 2004, JVJ Publishing

Illustrations copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1997 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2011.

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