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Dean Cornwell Art


Dean Cornwell

Artist Biography

Artist Dean Cornwell was born in 1892. A student of both Harvey Dunn and Frank Brangwyn, Cornwell was equally at home with illustrations and murals. You might have seen his cartoon work in Caricature - The Wit and Humor of a Nation, a compilation of material from Judge, as early as 1912.

In the 1920's, Cornwell's 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. Novels such as The City of the Great King and 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 Cosmopolitan Magazine, 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, it almost makes us want to expand the types of material we sell. But look for fiction titles like 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 1930's and 1940'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.

He created a series of placards commemorating great moments in medicine for Wyeth and Brother. 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.

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 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 People's Book Club provide striking testimony to the talent of this great artist.

In 1978, Patricia Broder wrote a book on Cornwell titled Dean Cornwell - Dean of Illustrators. Still the only book available on him and still highly recommended. Fortunately, it was recently reprinted.

Text provided courtesy of Bud Plant Illustrated Books.
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