American Illustration Art


(above: Norman Rockwell, Fishing Trip, They'll Be Coming Back Next Week, 1919, oil on canvas, 29 x 29 inches, Norman Rockwell Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American Illustration Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

After articles and essays from Resource Library are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches. Following online resources may be information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.


(above: Jessie Willcox Smith, 1863-1935 (artist); L. Prang & Co. (publisher), Checkers, 1861-1897 (approximate), proof print, Boston Public Library, Print Department. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Also see Children's Illustrated Literature


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:









(above: Jessie Willcox Smith, 1863-1935 (artist); L. Prang & Co. (publisher), In the Garden, 1861-1897 (approximate), Boston Public Library, Print Department. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


From other websites:

A Date with Art: The Business of Illustrated Calendars, an exhibit held January 25, 2014 - May 18, 2014 at the Brandywine River Museum of Art. From Terry Conway. Accessed February, 2016.

American Art Archives is a website dedicated to American Illustrators. Accessed August, 2015.

American Legacy Fine Arts, LLC. presents on its Research Library page several essays including "The Rise of an American Art" by Michael Zakian. Accessed August, 2015.

Book Illustration with artist names and examples of works from askArt. Accessed August, 2015.

C.F. Payne / Walter Gropius Master Artist Series is a 2013 exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art which says: "Often compared to legendary illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Payne's wide-ranging ability enables him to cover a range of subjects in multiple markets, seriously as well as irreverently. Much of Payne's commercial work depicts everyday life and references collective American experiences." Accessed 3/17

Cyrus Baldridge, American Illustrator and Selections from the Marguerite Hettel Weiss Bequest is a 2019 exhibit at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum which says: "Baldridge is an important historical voice in American illustration, not least for his liberal, post-colonial perspective on the costs of empire early in the twentieth century. The books that he illustrated, as well as those on which he collaborated with journalist Caroline Singer, approached distant cultures in a spirit of humility. Also see information in Wikipedia. Accessed 7/19

Dressed to Thrill: Fashion in American Illustration is a 2021 exhibit at The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University. Mary Platt, Director, says: "The Hilbert Collection includes many works of American illustration created for popular magazines, particularly from the "Midcentury" years (late 1940s through the 1950s). In story illustrations and advertising images, artists of that era employed bold graphics and textures and jaunty colors to depict the latest fashions of the times. Artists such as Gwen Fremlin, Joe de Mers and many others studied the details of current couture and mass-market styles and often portrayed them accurately in their illustrations. Other artists improvised on the styles to design their own fashionable fantasy couture. "  Accessed 8/23

Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey, an exhibit held February - June 2011 at the Boston Athenæum. Accessed August, 2015.

Fins and Feathers: Children's Book Illustrations from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, an exhibit held January 21-April 22, 2012 at the Figge Art Museum. Includes images. Accessed August, 2015.

Harvey Dunn: Night and Day is a 2017 exhibit at the South Dakota Art Museum which says: "This exhibition features pairings of paintings by Harvey Dunn, one work depicting a night scene and one work depicting a day scene.  The paintings within the pairings relate to each other in subject matter and/or compositional strategies, revealing interesting connections and contrasts between the works."  Accessed 12/17

How He Was to His Talents: The Work of Ernest Haskell, an exhibit held March 24 - August 7, 2011 at the Mead Art Museum. Includes checklist and more. Accessed February, 2015

Illustrators from Accessed August, 2015.

Julius J. Lankes, Survey of an American Artist, an exhibit held November 12, 2013 to January 26, 2014 at University of Richmond Museums. Includes 52-minute online video featuring Kate Meyer, Assistant Curator, Works on Paper, Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. Accessed February, 2015.

Kelly Collection of American Illustration is a private collection of paintings and drawings by American Illustrators. The Kelly Collection website contains a list of relevant exhibitions and essays, plus other information. Accessed February, 2015.

The Korshak Collection: Illustrations Of Imaginative Literature is a 2017 exhibit at the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration which says: "The Society is proud to present a rare opportunity to view some of the greatest fantasy masterpieces of our time. Presenting a grouping of illustrations of imaginative literature from the Korshak Collection, on display in Gallery 1 & 2. "  Accessed 8/17

Learning from the Masters: The Famous Artists School is a 2017 exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum which says: "Based in Westport, Connecticut - which had been an artist's colony since the 1920s - the Famous Artists School became America's most popular art correspondence school during the Post-War era, serving as many as 60,000 students at the time. Its in-depth volumes gave practical how-to instruction in the unique working methods of John Atherton, Austin Briggs, Stevan Dohanos, Robert Fawcett, Peter Helck, Fred Ludekens, Al Parker, Norman Rockwell, Harold von Schmidt, Ben Stahl, and Jon Whitcomb."  Also see press release Accessed 9/17

Master of American Illustration - Frank E. Schoonover: Visions of America is a 2018 exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum which says: "This exhibition will explore the breadth of this important Golden Age artist's career, beginning with Schoonover's art school experiences as a student in Pyle's classes at the newly founded Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in Philadelphia, beginning in 1896, and his time at the Chadds Ford Summer School in 1899, where he honed his skills among other gifted Pyle pupils."  Also see articles from Resource Library. Accessed 12/18

More Than Words: Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, from Archives of American Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Mort Künstler: The Art of Adventure, an exhibit held November 8, 2014 through March 8, 2015 at Norman Rockwell Museum. Includes two online videos and press reviews. Accessed April, 2015.

National Museum of American Illustration website. Accessed August, 2015.

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, an exhibit held November 19, 2010 - April 10, 2011 at the Brooklyn Museum. The page for the exhibit includes a comprehensive teacher packet. Accessed August, 2015.

Samuel L. Schmucker: The Golden Age of Postcards, an exhibit held 1/22/05 - 5/30/05 at the Reading Public Museum. Accessed April, 2015.

Secrets Behind the Wall: The Don Trachte Replicas is a 2017 exhibit at the Huntsville Museum of Art which says: "In 2002, he loaned Breaking Home Ties to an exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum. However, experts were puzzled over discrepancies between the loaned painting and the printed Saturday Evening Post cover." Also see New York Times 11/30/06 article "$15.4 Million at Sotheby's for a Rockwell Found Hidden Behind a Wall"  Accessed 12/17

Society of Illustrators website. Accessed August, 2015.

State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle, an exhibit held February 9, 2013 - June 2, 2013 at the Delaware Art Museum. Includes brief biographies. Accessed August, 2015

Tony Sarg: Genius at Play is a 2023 exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum which says: "Tony Sarg: Genius at Play is the first comprehensive exhibition exploring the life, art, and adventures of Tony Sarg (1880-1942), the charismatic illustrator, animator, puppeteer, designer, entrepreneur, and showman who is celebrated as the father of modern puppetry in North America. His vast knowledge of puppet technology was instrumental in his design of the inaugural Thanksgiving Day parade balloon for Macy's Department Store in 1927, as well as subsequent parade balloons and automated displays for the company's festive holiday windows, which were imitated nationwide. The creator of a host of popular consumer goods, from toys and clothing to home décor, Sarg also envisioned fanciful illustrated maps and created mural designs for the Oasis Cafe in New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  Accessed 9/23

The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator, an exhibit held June 7, 2014 through October 26, 2014 at Norman Rockwell Museum. Includes online video and press releases and reviews. Accessed April, 2015.

Warhol By the Book is a 2015-16 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum, which says: "This exhibition presents Warhol's book work, from early student-work illustrations of the late 1940s, through to his careers as a commercial artist in the 1950s, Pop fine artist and underground filmmaker in the 1960s, and photographer and Pop culture icon of the 1970s-80s. Article includes gallery guide. Accesed 11/16

Woodstock to the Moon: 1969 Illustrated is a 2019 exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum which says: "Featuring works by more than 40 artists -- some on view for the first time -- as well as archival materials, the exhibition illuminates how Rockwell and other illustrators reflected popular culture during the final year of the tumultuous decade."  Accessed 11/19

The Wyeths: Three Generations - Works from the Bank of America Collection   is a 2017 exhibit at the Portland Art Museum - Oregon which says: "Visitors will explore 74 paintings and drawings by artists from three generations of the Wyeth family, all showcasing a commitment to realism, technical brilliance, and narrative sensibility." Accessed 12/17

Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney, an exhibit held in 2011 at Norman Rockwell Museum. Includes online 12-minute video. Accessed April, 2015.



(above: Norman Rockwell, Children Dancing at a Party, appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on January 26 1918, Private collection Steven Spielberg.  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Online videos:

The PBS American Masters series offers a page on children's books illustrator Maurice Sendak includes a 55-second video clip. PBS says: "...where Sendak discusses how there are little glimmers of similarity between his own childhood and the plot of his Caldecott-winning book, Where the Wild Things Are." Accessed August, 2015.


(above,  Frank Tenney Johnson, P. 45 - illustration from book "The Boss of Wind River" (1911) by A. M. Chisholm. Illustrator Frank Tennyson Johnson; publishers: Doubleday, Page & Co., New York [Caption: Miss Crooks came down the walk to meet him ..."I'm so glad to see you, Joe. I've been looking for you for days"]. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


DVD/VHS videos:

Charles Dana Gibson: Portrait of an Illustrator The "Gibson Girl," created by American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, first appeared in 1890, and was the first popular image of the American woman. Her independent, self-assured spirit and beauty captivated the American imagination. This 28 minute 1997 Josiah Emery video, produced by Gibson's great-grandson, explores the origins of the Gibson Girl, with an in-depth look at her creator and his life's work. It features numerous pen-and-ink drawings, interviews with family members and illustration experts, plus rare archival footage of Gibson.
J. C. Leyendecker - The Great American Illustrator is a 2002 video from Kultur Video With hundreds of paintings for The Saturday Evening Post and other publications, J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most successful illustrators of his time. This 45 minute video biography explores the warmth and imagination that marked his work. Kultur Video says: J.C. Leyendecker was the most successful illustrator of his time, creating over 500 paintings for magazine covers - including 322 for the Saturday Evening Post - and advertisements that made his clients famous. His paintings portrayed a lifestyle that resonated with millions of Americans. Even when depicting those issues that mattered most - a woman's right to vote, the economic woes of the Depression, victory over Nazi Germany - he never employed a heavy hand or a dark mood; his images were always full of human warmth and imagination. Leyendecker told the story of consumerism as if it were lyric poetry; replacing the turbulence of cultural history with a beauteous glance, a beguiling child, a muscular vision, or a gentle hand."
Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait is a 60 minute 2002 video from V.I.E.W. Video is a PBS special, narrated by 3-time Emmy Award nominee Mason Adams. Norman Rockwell had a love affair with America. His poignant paintings captured the truths of daily life with a simple humane grace and greeted Americans from the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for over five decades. This documentary celebrates Rockwell's life and art, with interviews and commentary by art historians, close friends and the artist himself. "This notable documentary shows Rockwell was a perceptive social commentator of exceptional artistic skill and narrative power" (Entertainment Weekly). DVD: Bonus features include a Norman Rockwell biography, an art gallery and more.
Norman Rockwell. "Norman Rockwell's distinctive illustrations, glowing with the simple, noble character of average citizens, crystallized an image of 20th century American life." This 50 minute 1994 A&E Biography video "provides an intimate portrait of the artist and the man with interviews of friends and people he used as models and takes us on a tour of the Norman Rockwell Museum and his best-known images."
Norman Rockwell: Painting America is an 86 minute 1999 American Masters Production from Winstar Home Entertainment.based on the award-winning PBS series. Norman Rockwell: Painting in America looks at the life and art of one of America's most celebrated illustrators. Best known for his memorable covers of The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell achieved unprecedented fame for masterfully showing warmth and humor in his renderings of everyday life. This program includes interviews with artists, critics, historians, friends and admirers, as well as archival newsreel and television footage of the artist himself. VHS/DVD.
Norman Rockwell's World: An American Dream is a 24 minute 1972 video directed by Robert Deubel that presents the world of American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) through reenactment, stills, paintings, and old film footage. Rockwell himself narrates this Academy Award®-winning film. Using the artwork and the commentary of Rockwell himself in combination with old film footage and staged reenactments, the Saturday Evening Post covers once again come alive.



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