Panting America's Portrait - How Illustrators Created Their Art
This book was inspired by my love for the art America’s illustrators created during their Golden Age. I began assembling the collection it contains while preparing a series of presentations for a continuing education program affiliated with the University of Delaware’s Wilmington branch. Wilmington, my hometown, was once the capital of American illustration. Taken together, the works in the finished collection illustrate how this art form evolved during the final decades of the 19th century and through years leading up to World War One.
The scope of the art needed to tell this story was so great that I changed my original plan, which was to conclude the book with a section on the propaganda art America’s illustrators created during the Great War. Instead, I have expanded this segment of the story into a separate book, which will be released on 6 April 2017, which is the 100th anniversary of our entry into “the war to end all wars.” This second volume will highlight how America’s illustrator admen and storytellers created the imagery that shaped our perceptions of our country and our ourselves for the next one hundred years.
Painting America’s Portrait - How Illustrators Created Their Art recounts the transformation of America’s economy during its so-called “Gilded Age” and the impact this had on the art of illustration. I make a special point of showing how advances in image production and reproduction technologies changed the appearance of the art. Better paint and more efficient methods for producing images allowed artists to create more vivid and more alluring pictures. I show how these advances transformed the art into effective tools for shaping public opinion and creating demand for all kinds of things.
The skills cultivated by America’s artist admen and storytellers during the Golden Age of Illustration enabled them create public support for the policy Woodrow Wilson implemented when he brought the nation into the war against Germany in 1917. This is the story I tell in Painting America’s Portrait – How Illustrators Created America.