Monday, December 21, 2009


The illustrator Henry Raleigh started and ended life in poverty and despair. But in between, he spent decades painting high society pictures and living the opulent life of one of the best paid illustrators in the country.

Born into a broken and destitute family, Raleigh began working at age 9 to support his mother and sisters. By the age of 12, he quit school altogether and found work on the docks of San Francisco, processing shipments of coffee beans from South America. Here, rough sailors and roustabouts filled his head with colorful and bawdy stories of life in far off places. At age 17, his knack for drawing landed him a job as a newspaper artist for the San Francisco Bulletin where he was assigned to some of the most seamy and gruesome aspects of the city, including executions, fires and fatal accidents. He later recalled learning a lot about human anatomy at the morgue sketching "promising looking corpses."

Raleigh's work soon attracted the attention of art directors and publishers who offered him better assignments. He moved to New York where he gradually progressed from newspapers to top magazines such as Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Colliers and Saturday Evening Post. Surprisingly, his trademark became his pictures of glittering parties and fashionable society life. He was sought after by some of the greatest writers of his day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote a fan letter saying, "Honestly, I think they're the best illustrations I've ever seen!"

At his peak, Raleigh was able to make enough money from just three or four months of work to enable him to spend the balance of the year traveling abroad with family and friends. American Artist magazine later wrote:
With distinction came affluence. In his best years his annual take was in the neighborhood of $100,000. Considering the then value of the dollar and the relatively insignificant tax on income, Raleigh probably had more cash in hand at the end of the year than any other illustrator before or since.
But Raleigh also spent money freely. He gave away thousands of dollars to friends, traveled lavishly, maintained a yacht, owned a mansion and kept a large studio in downtown Manhattan.

Unfortunately, styles changed (along with social values and taste in art) and his work dried up. Raleigh could not adapt; bankrupt and bitter, he committed suicide in 1944 by jumping out of the window of a sleazy hotel in Times Square.

One of the things that I find most interesting about Raleigh's approach is the way he often surrounds a core of careful drawing with a flurry of loose scribbles, repetitive lines and stray marks. My initial reaction to his work was frustration with what seemed like a lot of superfluous, fluttery lines. But I learned more about his objectives when I read a 1923 interview:
the most beautiful picture is one which the observer is left free to complete for himself. The illustrator should be able to select the essential elements in any subject which will convey to the layman the entire scene in the simplest and most direct way, avoiding mere details which tend to cause either monotony or confusion.
And indeed, the focal point of Raleigh's illustration often consists of a few sensitive, well placed lines to define the "essential elements" (proving he can indeed draw), encircled by increasingly loose and broad marks that create a general tone but offer few competing details.

Note how quickly Raleigh retreats from his careful handling of the central figures to the stray, wispy lines of the background couple (above) or the loose treatment of the balustrade (below).

Similarly, in the following illustration...

contrast Raleigh's careful treatment of the exchange between the two main characters:

With the loose, flowing treatment of the rest of the picture:

The majority of this picture seems to be made up of the chaos and scribbles you might expect from an abstract painter:

Finally, in the following detail, contrast the delicate linework in the faces at the top of the picture with the broad, rough treatment of the balance of the image:

I admire the fluid, seemingly effortless way that Raleigh was able to combine two very disparate ingredients in his art. If he had been able to accomplish the same thing with the disparate sides of his life, he might have had a chance at happiness.


slinberg said...

Lovely illustrations. And as clear a demonstration as one could ask for for why photography didn't kill art.

Rob Howard said...

Thanks for posting those along with your insightful observations. I confess to having just brushed past Raleigh's work but this article made me look at them with refreshed eyes. Thank you.

kev ferrara said...
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Gonzoduke0 said...

I really enjoy his work. I especially love the idea of slightly controlled chaos that surrounds precise to detail, helping to highlight the subject.

As an aside: I've just discovered this blog a few days ago and started from the beginning and spent hours pouring over every post and picture. I must say, fantastic!

Also, thank you. Thank you for illuminating so many great works of art that I never knew existed. While there are times I don't agree with your analysis of contemporary art or sequential art, I have yet to disagree with your statements about these great illustrators.

So, as a soon to be illustration student (hopefully a professional someday) I say thank you for opening my eyes in a new way.

Drew said...

Nice as this is, you could find illustrators by the dozen to do this kind of work back then, so no biggie.

David Apatoff said...

Thanks, Slinberg!

Rob, I had the same intial reaction to Raleigh. I am one of those who believes that if an artist is going to put a line on paper, they'd better have a darn good reason for doing so. For me, Raleigh's blizzard of stray lines didn't seem to satisfy that standard. But many acclaimed artists of his day thought he was hot stuff. (At the very first Exhibition of the Art Directors Club in 1921, Raleigh was picked for a special award by a jury made up of Robert Henri,
Charles Dana Gibson, Joseph Pennell and other luminaries). When I saw Raleigh's originals up close, I realized that he did know how to draw when he wanted to, but he used that talent sparingly. He seemed to envision the role of all those background lines as mood music--perhaps a jazz riff-- so it was a mistake for me to be looking to each one to contribute traction to the picture. Raleigh is still not my favorite illustrator, but I do think he is worth the extra effort to figure out what he was trying to achieve.

By the way, Raleigh did have two years of formal art training, funded by the kindly owner of that coffee bean importing firm. Raleigh was said to be a strong advocate of "French atelier" training. Since you are our resident atelier guru, can you tell me what that means?

David Apatoff said...

Kev, that first Raleigh is one of my favorites, although I've seen half a dozen that I like as much or more. He was certainly prolific and I would say his quality was uneven (although Walt Reed wrote he "was one of the most prolific of all our illustrators. In spite of this, he maintained a consistent high quality and good taste in all his work." I believe Walt Reed more than I believe myself. )

I suppose I would generally put Raleigh in the same quality category as LaGatta.

That's an interesting story about Raleigh's son. I gather that he left his wife and children for a 16year old model, so I would guess that his kids had a lot to get over. You would think that growing up without a father, Raleigh would have been more sensitive to the pain his actions would cause. But once you're damaged goods, it's hard to stop the cycle.

GonzodukeO-- what a delightful comment! I was so happy to get it. I understand that there are a lot of people who differ with me on some of the current stars of sequential art. All I can tell you is that I will give them the same chance that I described to Rob above-- if I don't like them at first but there is some indication that they are worth stretching to understand, I try to come back again and again and measure them based upon what they are trying to achieve. Readers (well, some readers anyway) have been particularly helpful in broadening my perspective, which is one of the main reasons for doing this.

David Apatoff said...

Drew, I agree that this was a popular style in the '10s and '20s, but I think you have a chicken and egg problem. If I say that there are a dozen illustrators who work like Brad Holland or Bob Peak or Bernie Fuchs, that just means that those artists were influential, not that they were fungible. The real question for me is whether any of the imitators surpass the originator? When they do, it's time for the originator to move on to a new gig.

Francis Vallejo said...

It seems to me, knowing which areas of the picture to pick your battles is quite important. Especially with today's deadlines, pouring over a full image with the same level of polish is a honorable, but tough mantra to uphold. Raleigh is a great example of picking your battles, and making those sing so well, that the rest of the image supports it in peripheral

happy holidays!

kev ferrara said...

I wrote some incorrect info in my first post, so I've deleted it. (really wish blogspot would allow editing after posting.)

Here was the anecdote to which David refers: A friend of mine took art courses from Raleigh's son back around 1980. The son confided that he was in the room when his Dad defenestated and had never gotten over it.

I would agree that Raleigh was working the same mine as LaGatta, but whereas LaGatta is unmistakably American, Raleigh's stuff looks for all the world like European work. At least to me. Even now, an artist like Ruben Pellejero (Dieter Lumpen) seems to have that same langourous vibe; thin sophisticated people in dashing clothing. But I can't find a trace of Raleigh in any modern American illustrator.

Mark said...

David, What a great Christmas gift. I see Raleigh's work the way you would the Impressionists. It's seeing it from a distance that you get the impact, up close it looks like just a bunch of lines or random brush strokes.

Merry Christmas!!

Anonymous said...

Where do you get your information?! Is there a book on Raleigh?

David Apatoff said...

Francis-- I agree that it is crucial for an artist to be selective and a successful picture must prioritize. What may be throwing some people off is that Raleigh's signal-to-noise ratio is so unconventional. Yes, he has chosen a few key elements to highlight with tighter drawing, but on the other hand the "less important" parts have the bulk of the lines and activity.

Kev-- re Raleigh's "languorous vibe," note my response to Rob about French ateliers.

Mark-- thanks very much, and Merry Christmas to you.

Anonymous-- I'm not aware of any books about Raleigh, although there may be. I got most of my information from previous pleasure reading: an in depth interview and article from Studio Magazine (November 1923), a biography and retrospective in American Artist Magazine (September 1953), an interesting essay by a family member ( and other odds and ends.

Hellström said...

Oh, this one I really like. The last one especially. Drew, no offence, but if there really are dozens like Releigh, I'd say that that would indeed be a biggie. And I'd like to see them too;-)
David, thanks again for showing great stuff that there is no chance whatsoever I would otherwise run into.

Tom said...

I've noticed that contrast technique in a lot of artist work. Degas often contrasts a finely painted head with a background that is vigoursly, and abstractly painted. Francis Bacon often concentrates his wild brush work in the painting of his figures which stand out in their violence when contrasted with his vast neutral undirectioal backgrounds. A lot of Hiroshige's skecth book drawings do the same thing, a small amount of fine exact brush work contrasted with a vast expense of undefinable emptiness.
One the most impotrant elements in Chinese painting is the concept of open and close. A painting should have
both elements. The open space let's the mind run free and
the close space anchors and holds the mind with a specfic object. Form and space that just about covers it all, doesn't it. What is true for the part it true for the whole. Good art allows you to feel your own inner space, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

...thanks for a great post,
even the comments are comprehend able.
Happy Holidays!,
Derrick H.

David Apatoff said...

Hellstrom and Anonymous / Derrick H-- Thanks very much to both of you; glad to have you participating!

Tom-- Thanks for your interesting insights. I was not previously aware of the concept of open and close in Chinese painting, but it seems to apply perfectly well here. Also, I agree with your point about Degas-- Lautrec is another good example. Raleigh did overlap with the French impressionists and I'm sure they influenced him.

Anonymous said...

David, a little provocation:

>My initial reaction to his work was >frustration with what seemed like a >lot of superfluous, fluttery lines. >But I learned more about his >objectives when I read a 1923 >interview:

What do his objectives matter if you didn't feel it happening for you once you looked at it unaided?
Shouldn't an illustration work stand by itself? Are you saying an artist's statement changed your mind? :)

Actually I like his sketchy lines, I think going sketchy is one of the best pictorial translations for depth of field effects, among other uses.

I think it is perfectly plausible for a style to work excellently on some people and not others. Sketchy might please me while it grates on you in some fundamental way (cough...economy freak...cough :)). We'd both agree that he can draw competently, but differ on the rest. Different receptors and all...


David Apatoff said...

Sorry, Antonio, I don't provoke nearly so easily. I haven't forgotten the recent exchange about whether the quality of a picture should depend solely on the object itself or should take into account the underlying intent of the artist. As I recall, my point at the time was that if you had two identical photos, one achieved through the careful planning and skill of the photographer and the other achieved by accidentally dropping a camera, it's difficult to claim that the first image counts as art and the second does not. How can artistic quality depend upon whether you get the labels mixed up? Besides, what if the photographer never revealed that the second shot was an accident? Are you going to hire a detective to look into the history of each work before deciding it is worthy? I don't really know the answer, but thinking about it too long gives me a head ache when I could be spending my time looking at great pictures and accepting them at face value.

The case of Raleigh, in my view, is a little different. I like his pictures but I am receptive to having my experience of his art enhanced by seeking out the backstory from the artist. I believe in art that requires work, that is complex and layered and oblique (although I frown upon art that is deliberately obscure and inaccessible just to be cool). Difficult art might require repeated viewings or discussion with friends or even reading about the background of the piece. For me, the catch is that if art wants to be difficult it had better be prepared to bait the hook with evidence that the hunt will be worthwhile. Shakespeare can be tough slogging, but he has littered the trail with diamonds that make you believe that your effort is likely to pay off big. Picasso's art is not easily accessible, but you might be inclined to stick with him longer and give him the benefit of the doubt because he mastered traditional drawing skills at a young age.

Well, Raleigh persuaded me with those few select highlights of his work that he knew how to draw sensitively and well when he wanted to. I also realized he knew how to stage a picture with psychological insight. For me, that entitled him to a little extra effort to figure out just what I might be missing in those other, random looking parts of the picture.

Bottom line is, I now like those "sketchy lines" too, more than I once did. Raleigh is still not my favorite but I have a better appreciation for him now.

Unknown said...
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Rob Howard said...

>>> Raleigh was said to be a strong advocate of "French atelier" training. Since you are our resident atelier guru, can you tell me what that means?<<<

The French atelier system was as different from what currently operates under the rubric of "atelier" as is Revlon's cosmetic Franglais from true French.

The true French atelier system was quite lively, based on spontaneous drawings from the figure. Quite the opposite of that was the German gewerbeschule which had a rigid system of copying from casts in a "scientific" approach. There were some French who tried to apply that to their art, but it was something of a failure. Charles Bargue was one of those who tried to apply gewerbeschule system to drawing with deadening results.
In the 1830's the House of Commons was upset that the French were doing so much better in trade markets because of the superiority of their artistic and craftsman's skills, so they did what all bone-headed bureaucrats do...they formed a committee to correct the problem. From that arose the risible National Arts Training Schools. They ignored the French system because they frankly did not want to produce artists but rather, craftsmen to go into industry to design and applied ornamentation. So they based their approach on the gewerbeschule and that is the bastardized version that has been taken up (after decades of not being employed) and rewritten into some fantasy that never existed, like the Franglais on cosmetics.

It doesn't take a great deal of smarts to realize that the German gewerbeschule is unlikely to produce creative artists. It will, however, produce excellent craftsmen capable of the highest quality decoration on fine china, carved wooden chests and inlaid bibelots.

In this country, the progenitor of the fantasy was down the hall from me at the Fenway Studios. R.H.Ives Gammell went to France and studied with two second-tier students of Gerome. As the Germans were in the process of invading France, Gammell beat a hasty retreat with less than one third of his lessons completed. But that was enough to create the American Atelier System(TM). I won't mince words. Gammell was an abusive prick to his students, but like masochists returning to a dominatrix, there will always be a particular pathology that is drawn by that sort of abuse. Those people have gone one to teach and form the basis of one of the most uninspired and woodenheaded art movements of recent memory...another gewerbeschule, not a lively French atelier.

kev ferrara said...

Re: "I haven't forgotten the recent exchange about whether the quality of a picture should depend solely on the object itself or should take into account the underlying intent of the artist."

I can't blame you for skimming over my arguments, headache inducing as they are. But misstating them when I'm not looking... that's downright human!

What is this, the internet?

So, once more into the breach...

My point was not about intent, but content. Aesthetic content.

The question is, where does the aesthetic charge come from... within or without? If the aesthetic charge comes from within, you are looking at a work of art. If it comes from without, you are looking at a recording.

An example:

A filmmaker sets up a video recorder on a still tripod and records Simon and Garfunkle performing.

You watch and enjoy the video.

Is the recording itself a work of art?

No, the recording merely captures the light and sound that emanates from the performance when viewed and heard from a certain direction.

What has been captured is an artifact of Simon and Garfunkle's performance, not the performance itself.

A single frame of this film would be the equivalent of a photograph... the recording of the light coming off the performers at one instant in time.

The emanation of light from the performers is a kind of performance as well... the photons exist in that particular configuration only for one brief moment, they do their particular thing, and then they are gone forever. A recording of these photons is an artifact of their existence, not a physical duplication of their existence.

A work of art, on the other hand, is not an artifact of another event, but consists materially of the artifacts of its own creation. And is thus the embodiment of its process, rather than merely the results of it. That is to say, an artwork is, and remains, the performance of itself.

This is why the value of a work of Art is intrinsic, rather than extrinsic.

The artistic value of a Rembrandt, then, has nothing to do with extrinsic events, his models, or the particular scene from the bible he might be illustrating. Anybody can depict a scene from the bible, or paint from the model. What matters is the Rembrandt-ness of his pictures, and Rembrandt-ness is a purely intrinsic property that only Rembrandt can manifest.

(I have a photograph of three aspirin, if you need them.)

David Apatoff said...

Sorry, Kev, if I mangled your original thesis in the restatement. I viewed that last exchange as something of a water balloon fight at midnight, and it became a little difficult to trace the source of every successive volley. I am hoping that aesthetic content coming from within is not quite so far from the notion that the motive or concept or intent behind the creation of the object is what gives it legitimacy as art. I understand the incentive for wanting to exclude mistakes, objective recordings, accidents, etc. but on the other hand I have seen some pretty good looking extrinsic stuff, and I also suggest that there will be times (especially when dealing with the art of ancient or foreign cultuiures) when it will not be easy to distinguish what is intrinsic from what is extrinsic.

Your Simon and Garfunkel video example postulates a still tripod. If Martin Scorsese is reading this, I would be interested in his comments on whether his movie of Woodstock or the Last Waltz is intrinsic or extrinsic.

Those three aspirin-- would they be bending over?

David Apatoff said...

Rob-- fantastic! Thank you for the lesson, professor, and the accompanying commentary. I don't know where else I might have obtained such information.

You can really see why the French atelier appealed to Raleigh, and how it affected his style.

kev ferrara said...

S'alright David...


The problem with "intent/motive" is that we can never know it for sure no matter what the artist says. An intuitive artist may not even know what his intent was.

And intent doesn't really matter anyway if the actual created fact or object doesn't adhere to some definition of art.

So, for example, if somebody spits in your face, does it matter if his intent was to make art? To Arthur Danto, the answer is yes... If the spitter says he's made art, he's made art.

I think that is utter nonsense for a host of reasons, none of which have anything to do with words. (For instance, do I need to explain why the spitting incident is not a creative act?)

So, I've discarded "intent" because it leads only to po-mo word games.

"Concept" too is problematic. What if your art concept is to buy a Rembrandt and to sign your own name to it? What if your concept is to murder somebody against a canvas? What if your concept is to hang a frame around somebody else's graffiti?

Again, we get into po-mo word games... meaningless linguistic tests of the word "Art" or the idea of authorship.

"Aesthetic content," on the other hand, avoids all this superficial postmodern chatter. Aesthetic content can only be derived from the work itself, because true aesthetic content, by definition, is purely graphic in nature, not verbal. So nobody can explain it to you. It's either there for you to experience, or it isn't.
(If the content of a work is sufficiently transferred verbally, it seems to me the artwork is actually more of a text than an Artwork.)

So, by virtue of being purely graphic in nature, aesthetic content completely avoids the hermeneutic merry-go-rounds of postmodernism (except insofar as such chatter can be used to demonize the work by political means.)

As far as "accidents" are concerned, in some sense, aesthetic content always has an accidental component. Developed artists have a personal handwriting which cannot be helped and which is wholly graphic in nature. But these artifacts of personality and physicality are accidents that stem from the conscious process of the artist. And they're only left in if they coincide with the essence of the work. The overall work itself is in no way accidental. (Or, in the main, the result of a mistake.)

Recordings per se are not art. I would like to think we can agree on this point, as it is fundamental to any discussion. (If one believes all recordings are Art, then security camera footage is Art, footprints are Art, ID photos are Art, etc.)

The Last Waltz is a slightly more complicated case, because of editing and camera angles. But the core aesthetic content is still coming from the stage and the performers. Test the idea this way: Imagine the exact same film, shot for shot, but this time with a bunch of workaday studio musicians with listless musical tastes who have nothing much interesting to say to Scorcese's questions. (If you already see the film that way, the odds that it works for you anyway are extremely slim, thus proving my point that the charge of the film comes from the performers.)

mark morris said...


I have to second David's thanks. I have read only a little on the contemporary atelier system. I was attracted to it because of the abysmal education in art and my lack of knowledge when I was in art school many years ago. I wished that something like this existed those long years ago.
I have wondered why you were so hard on them and now I understand.

MORAN said...

I agree with Mark Morris (and David). That's very interesting about the differences in ateliers, Rob. Thanks.

Rob Howard said...

Mark and Moran, I agree that we in the West went through a half century of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. That was a sharp reaction to the overly rigorous and mechanistic art schools that produced craftsmen rather than creative artists. The result was an increase in personal creativity without developing some of the more useful hand skills.

Then the pendulum began its swing in the other direction and zealots who did not truly understand which methods worked, imposed an overly rigorous system of developing hand skills with no attention to content, intent and pictorial composition, let alone an understanding of color. The result has been a cadre of skilled paint appliers producing wooden and uninspiring pictures...and far less ambitious than their professed heroes of bygone times.

During this period of artistic turmoil, frozen in time in the hermit kingdom of St. Petersburg was a fully operating art education system that did not change (or changed very little). If you wanted to end up as a solid realist painter who was not afraid of throwing a few hundred figures into a well-conceived composition, the academies in St. Petersburg where where to go.

The Chinese saw that training as valuable and sent scores of talented youngsters north to study. They came back and created something of a revolution in art education in China where they can now mount battalions of highly skilled AND FAST painters who can easily blow the doors off of most of the kids who studied in romantic locations like Florence.

That Russian method has made it to the US in a small academy in the Washington DC area and another, larger one, in Ashland Oregon. A former student is now enrolled in Ashland and sens back glowing reports. He is a retired psychiatrist, now in his 70's, who has always had an artist inside wanting to be made manifest. I am in awe of his commitment.

Some of the big art schools like SVA, RISD and San Francisco Art Academy have been taking up the cudgel and leading the way into a more balanced approach that recognizes that we live in an age of films, TV and the horseless carriage. From what I have seen coming out of those schools, we may well be standing on the brink of a real renaissance in art. Many of those kids have awesome skills and a wonderful attitude.

Anonymous said...

I am not disputing that the modern atelier system is completely misguided. However, there is plenty of evidence that cast drawing training dates at least back to Accademia di San Luca. See Pevsner's "Academies of Art" or simply Google image search Baccio Bandinelli.

kev ferrara said...

Happy Holidays everybody!

Rob Howard said...

>>>However, there is plenty of evidence that cast drawing training dates at ....<<<

The point is not that it's as old as making mud pies. The question is, what has it produced? The bottom line in art has (until the Age Of Me-Me) always been a rather practical good are the results?

Zavi said...

highly skilled AND FAST painters who can easily blow the doors off of most of the kids who studied in romantic locations like Florence.

Are we talking about 'art' here or the 100 metres hurdles. Did anyone put a stopwatch on Zorn or Sorolla?
"Sorry guys you didn't make the cut you're too slow."

Really, what a typically crass remark from someone who affects a cultured outlook. That is a hack's observation.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Really, what a typically crass remark from someone who affects a cultured outlook. That is a hack's observation<<<

It has been my experience that any of the studios that had "creative" in their name were schlock houses and anyone concerned with their place in the world of art was usually someone with a rather uninspiring curriculum published work, no museum shows...basically, a nonentity in art.

I never lay claim to being anything other than a dumb ol' country boy who just happened to learn a couple of nifty tricks.

So, what's your problem with artists who can work fast? There are those we see who take pride in being slow painters. I suppose they are also proud of being late to appointments and filing their taxes. The reality is that lots of the artists you probably worship were very fast. Bouguereau was a regular speed demon. That enabled him to produce a huge body of work. That means that he also got much more practice than a slow painter...and that made him even better. Rubens was very fast, as was Velazquez, but someone of your refined tastes finds fault with that.

And what is it that you have accomplished in art? Please direct me to the portfolio and curriculum vitae.

Yeah, I thought so.

Rob Howard said...

It's Christmas day and I looked in the post box to be cheered byyet another royalty check, this one from Random House/Bertelsmann. For those of you who are elevated above the rude and coarse grubbing for money, this will signal yet another crass and venal aspect of this artist's life. But for this old artist it's a heartening and welcome vindication of my belief that creativity should pay...and into the future.

I suspect that there are passions and beliefs I've left unexplored in becoming a fulltime professional artist rather than enjoy the purer views that seem to be the province of the keen amateur and the semi-pro. As goes the cliche about the reason for the unbridled viciousness of infighting among college professors..."it's because there's so little at stake."

I suppose the vituperative sniping we see can only be coming from the non-pros or marginal artists because they have so little to lose.

Happy Christmas to all who are not offended by kind wishes, and to all of those who are, dreams of the sugar plum royalties you'll never see.

theory_of_me said...

Rob, everyone and their grandmother knows that mediocrity pays well in this world. Just turn on a TV or a radio for the resounding proof. So, the fact that you've used a couple of "tricks" which you vainly refer to as "creativity" to earn some money hardly comes as a revelation to anybody.

Since it's Christmas and everyone is busy being pious (yeah, right) here's a passage from the Bible:

"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward". (Matthew 6:2)

Meaning that, you may have your material reward Rob, but that's all you're going to get.

Valentino said...

Nice entry, David. I wonder how Henrich Kley would resolve these commissions.

quote: >Even now, an artist like Ruben Pellejero (Dieter Lumpen) seems to have that same langourous vibe; thin sophisticated people in dashing clothing.

Yes, in his early period. Pellejero is great, indeed, as well as his super talented writer Jorge Zentner (I never read a boring panel by those two artists) and Dieter Lumpen series embodies everything I like in comics.
However, Pellejero's later style with all those thick lines (done on Wacom tablet, I assume) is not nearly as exciting.

Valentino said...

Btw, for those interested in more in-depth overview of French Academic method, I'd recommend book by late professor Albert Boime - The Academy and French Painting in the Nineteenth Century.

Brian said...

I never thought that I would say this, but I agree completely with Rob Howard. His take on the atelier system is correct.

What passes for "fine art" and much of illustration these days is simply a copying technique applied to academic subjects.

Add in an over-reliance on photography and you have a ho-hum form of realism that is endlessly repetitive and trite.

I wouldn't go as far as Rob and say that the Russians and Chinese are such great painters though. There's plenty of the same copycat-ism there too.

Until I see a return of talents like that golden age of painting and illustration circa 1870-1930, I won't be getting too excited about the new realistic art scene.

Going back to Raleigh, why did he commit suicide? It's true that his type of work went out of style, but he could have re-cast himself in a variety of roles, a la John Held. There's always more to the story than simply a worn out career. I'm sure he had personal problems aplenty to do what he did.

slinberg said...

Boy, there sure are a lot of opinions being stated as facts here.

Did someone in a position of authority state that the purpose of the technical training done at ateliers is to produce "complete" artists who will never need any other kind of training?

My opinion, and note that it is an OPINION, is that the pinnacle of art is produced by grand souls with magnificent things to say, who also have extensive technical training and magnificent skill at rendering so that it may be communicated. I don't care how epic your vision is if you can't draw a correct ellipse, properly model lighting factors around a sphere, or control illusion-breaking factors like unrealistic transitions of hue, value and chroma. Likewise, someone with extraordinary technical training without anything interesting to say may produce art that is technically impressive but lacking a powerful emotive message.

Personally, I can find beauty even in work that is technically proficient but not terribly deep; that's my bias. Others may appreciate emotive work that lacks technical skill; I don't, as much, but again, that's my bias. But I've never understood the logic of critiquing schools that are attempting to teach pure skills simply because that may be all they teach. That's what was missing from most of the 20th century, in my opinion. No, it's not enough on its own, but it's a simple straw man to critique it for not being complete, without a creditable assertion that it was INTENDED to be complete. And even if such an assertion were found, it could be trivially disputed. Technical training is important and worthwhile. That should be obvious to anyone interested in creating convincing illusions of reality.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Just curious Rob, but did not Ruben's and Velelazquez etc, have shops with lots of people working for them? They also knew what the subjects of there paintings where going to be and they even knew where the works where going to be place, even at what eye level. Artists like Van Gogh, Monet or Cezanne did everything without a shop or a patron or even knowing if the works would be place on a wall somewhere, and had to decide on what subjects would be best for carrying the ideas they wanted to expressed. One nice thing with about having a patron, a church, a king, a client etc is the artist never has to address the problem of subject; he or she becomes totally free to focus on how the subject will be developed. People get really good at things like sports if they don't have to create the rules of the game first, The game is given and the participants are free to concentrate on developing the best skills without ever facing any existential doubt about what it is they are doing, they just do. I think much of the art making in the 20th century is addressing the question of what is art and a lot of it is pretty good. I don’t think Rubens or a athlete like Michael Jordan would said what deKooning did, “I can see of course in the abstract thinking and all activity is rather desperate.” Who knows maybe they would, but when everyone agrees to what reality is you don’t feel your freedom as much.
As far as speed is concern I read that admittance the French academy was based on a quick drawing,( I don’t know if this is true or not, I read it in Vernon Blake”s The art and Craft of Drawing) which would give the student almost no opportunity hide deficiencies. It's like playing tennis. You can make a pretty quick assessment of someone skills just hitting a few balls with him or her. Once you know what you are doing you quickly proceed to the heart of the matter.

Matthew Adams said...

weary of thee, Robs (silly?) postering on the top of the dung heap is not half so foul smelling as your personal vendetta against him, and taking pot shots at him from the bottom of the heap is just plain bad strategy.

I had never heard of Henry Patrick Raleigh before this. The illustrations you (David) posted certianly show that he is work worth looking at.

Completely off topic, I wonder if you have seen the work of Lorenzo Mattotti (I suspect he wouldn't be a favorite for most who visit this blog), and if you have, what you think of his work?

Rob Howard said...

>>Theory Of Me<<<

What absolutely mystifies me is the attitude I see. Let's say that I will grant that I am a no-talent, venal hack devoid of soul and any good qualities. The part I find mystifying goes against all logic...if I am that low, why have not you and your ilk published books on numerous subjects, has work exhibited in museums and basically been at the same hack level as to be able to make a fulltime living in this profession?

The PeeWee Herman line of "I know you are but what am I?" springs to mind along with the statement that sounds like it was aimed at you personally..."I'd like to than all of the little people."

As we used to say when playing doctor...I'll show you mine if you show me yours, so here's mine
Do you have anything to compare? Have you even got enough skin in the game to be able to make a comment?

No? Than sit back quietly and know your place in the pecking order puts you at decidedly sub-hack level.

Rob Howard said...

>>>I wouldn't go as far as Rob and say that the Russians and Chinese are such great painters though. There's plenty of the same copycat-ism there too.<<<

I didn't mean to imply that, Brian, and i'm sorry if I left you with that impression. What I did try to say was during the great rush to modernism (some of which was milestone work but most was, like most art, mere fashion of the times) the academies in St. Petersburg preserved all of the traditional techniques and approaches. There were lots of reasons for this but the bottom line, it was preserved in amber, just as it was a century before whereas today's ateliers have almost no resemblance and absolutely no connection with the ateliers from which they draw there names.

Let's face it, the words atelier trips off the tongue better than gewerbeschule, but what exists today is equally inartistic and unmusical to the ear and eye...if it walks like a gewerbeschule, and quacks like a gewerbeschule, it must be a gewerbeschule.

I was simply comparing the copycat abilities of today's battalions of skilled Chinese craftsmen/painters with those of today's atelier grads. Whether it's the Xinchuan School of Pictorial Xerography or the Florence Academy of Xerography, it's all gewerbeschule.

While I don't hold art in the same celestial esteem as non-artists and keen amateurs do, I certainly agree that there's more to it than simply copying what's placed in front of you. It's good to remember that the biggest criticism of Caravaggio was that he couldn't paint a convincing figure without using a model.

I still hold that drawing from memory is what separates the artists from the copyists.

theory_of_me said...

Matthew Adams:


Rob: If I clicked on your portfolio and saw nothing but the equivalent of Raphael in drawing and Velasquez in painting (or better), it wouldn't magically make the nonsense you post here make sense. Likewise, if I saw totally incompetent work, it wouldn't devalue anything you've ever said that was actually reasonable.

You remind me of religious nuts who can't accept wisdom or truth if it's not accompanied by flashy magic tricks. That's the hallmark of an unthinking clod.

Mr Blache said...

awesome blog !!!
beautiful illustrations lovely work !!!

अर्जुन said...

The indefinite strokes create a vibration of life, the atmosphere of the scene.

Atelier, the romantic concept of the masters studio in which all aspects of art production is done in house. Members at various stages preparing canvas' and paint, drawing from casts and models, transferring the masters cartoon and working on the masterpiece, underpainting and finishing the lesser elements. Though most were there for the fencing, boxing, and general horseplay.

I don't know the context in which Raleigh referred to the French atelier. Atelier has the amorphous meanings of school-studio-workshop-workplace, though not necessarily art related. atelier de la librairie

Raleigh probably meant in general the French school.

Now what would that mean circa 1910?

In 1863 the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was reformed so as to, for the first time, teach painting, which previously had only been done in the private ateliers of various masters. Concurrently private art schools came about, the most popular being the Academie Julian. The set up being six days a week, seven hours a day, painting from life (the figure) draped and undraped. The master would make an appearance twice a week, to make criticisms. These became the model for the newly formed Art Students League of NY and for the reformation of the National Academy of Design, as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Boston Museum School. So in essence he meant get your ass to the League and get to work!…and seeing that it hasn't changed to this day, what is all the griping about lost possibilities?

Now what does that mean for 20th century American illustration art? the "/ " indicates co-teachers of a class.

Chicago: via France, J.H. Vanderpoel (Boulanger/Lefebvre), J. Allen St. John (Laurens/Constant), via Belgium, William H. Mosby (?,most belgian artist studied in France)
J.C. & Frank Leyendecker studied under Vanderpoel, before going to France (Laurens/Constant), alongside Mucha and Lionel Barrymore! Orson Lowell (Vanderpoel)
Mosby taught Gil Elvgren and a number of other Chicago style illustrators, which coincides with the Sundblom creamy look and the then lingering popularity of Anders Zorn as a portraitist in that city.

Boston: via France, Paxton (Gerome&?), Benson (Boulanger/Lefebvre), Tarbell(?), etc.etc., via Germany, Decamp (?), not really a illustration town, Mr. Howards, for the record, who were your instructors at the Museum(Normal) School? Former students of Tarbell?

Philadelphia: via France, Eakins (Gerome&Bonnat), Anschutz (Eakins&?)

New York: via France, DuMond (Boulanger/Lefebvre), Bridgeman (Gerome), via Germany, Chase(Piloty), via Italy, Falanga (his art) Frazetta studied at his Brooklyn school for 8 years before turning pro.
Christy (Chase), Coles Phillips (Chase) and at the ASL of NY DuMond-Bridgeman taught Flagg, Rockwell, E.F. Ward, Reilly, Loomis, Kinstler, Riley etc.etc.

Some Reilly students: Peter Max, Leonard Starr, James Bama, Richard Estes, Robert Maguire, Gene Colan, Joe Bowler, Dan Barry, Basil Gogos.

Side note, in Paris Gammell studied under third tier pupils of Luc-Olivier Merson. The Russians are 4th rate Sat. Eve. Post painters.

Of course there were many more, but thats for you to find. All apologies for any errors of fact and innuendo! As always, accurate additions and informed corrections are welcomely encouraged.

Brian said...

Am I supposed to infer that the ridiculous "atelier system" is responsible for producing great illustrators?

If that's so, then how to explain the hordes of atelier graduates who did/do nothing special?

All an art school can teach is fundamentals, like value scale, measuring (live model), some anatomy, perspective, color theory, and some design. Two years, maybe three tops. After that, you're on your own.

The mechanical measuring/copying nonsense taught at ateliers is practically useless for doing anything more than academic studies.

Many artists/illustrators rejected it. Dean Cornwell said that academic drawing was useless. Howard Pyle opened his school because he thought that academic training was poor prepartion for a career in illustration. Josepeh Clement Coll never studied at an atelier, and he was one of the best draftsmen I've ever seen. I could go on and on.

When I see the atelier copycats do anything truly creative with their so-called "education" (and a super-high priced one at that), I'll eat my shoes.

अर्जुन said...

"Am I supposed to infer that the ridiculous "atelier system" is responsible for producing great illustrators?"

Such was never implied, as noted the system then was not what it is today. In both cases the results are a product of the age. The point was, what did it mean to Raleigh.

Pyle's school in essence was an atelier, and it should be noted that many of his students trained for years at the schools mentioned, before they ever met the man.

Brian said...

Pyle's school was most definitely not an atelier. He didn't like ateliers and formed his school in direct opposition to that idea. Read about it for yourself. The throw-away term "in essence" doesn't quite cut it. His students may or may not have trained for years at an atelier, but it was Pyle's school that really made the difference. That's not my opinion, that's their testimony, and why Pyle is held in such high esteem.

If your idea is that the atelier system wasn't responsible for producing those illustrators, then why the verbiage to link them to the atelier tradition?

अर्जुन said...

Yes, Pyle formed a dojo to compete with a cross town dojo, just like in the Karate Kid.

Your confusing the modern system with the old one. The one in which the goal was narrative pictorial illustration art. Cornwell studied at Dunn's dojo, and later worked in the studio(atelier) of a master, Brangwyn.

seadude8140 said...

not only great work, goodlooking too.

Ribbon said...

Nice. This Picture say about The human history.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget his stunning work developing at least four World War One Bond Posters such as "Hun or Home?" and "Halt the Hun". My wife and I own the former as a poster and the simplicity combined with the message is achieved only by few artists.

Fineartlitho said...


My name is Chris Raleigh. Henry Raleigh was my grandfather. I am currently writing a book about Henry Raleigh and his work. I have been collecting his artwork for the past 22 years. Today my collection of his original illustrations, etchings, lithographs, sketches and personal letters etc. contains over 300 original items. Additionally, I have collected thousands of examples of his illustrations from period magazines and books. I also am fortunate to have Hank's personal archive of scrap books that contain hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles that were written from 1910 to the 1950's. I never met my grandfather. He died the year before I was born. From the time I was a small child I listened intently to the myriad of stories about my famous grandfather. Contrary to the opinions expressed by Nora raleigh Baskin, I never heard a bad word about Henry from my mother or father. My father was the born in 1914 to Henry's first wife. This was the time of henry's meteoric rise to the top of of his profession. He and his family and ultimately my mother lived quite a charmed life of love, luxury, and world travels that was provided by Henry Raleigh's ability to make a great amount of money as a commercial artist.

As far as what I think about the quality of his art or his ability as an artist! I may predigest, but there is no dispute that Henry was a skilled illustrator.

Illustration is by definition a commercial form of art. And as such, It does not turly exist in the vacuum of pure expression. You can continue the discussion, on this blog, in great detail about business of line or caotic scratching of lines around the main focal points of the image, but one has to remember that Raleigh's job, as an artist, was to capture the imagination of the viewer and draw them into reading the adjacent story. And to that end, he was extremely successful. During the 1920's 30's and 40's he was in constant demand. Most years he worked only 8 or 9 months and traveled the rest of the time. And, was still able to earn over $100,000. a year during the time of the Depression. He was called the most prolific illustrator of his time. By the time he was 50 years old he had already published over 20,000 illustrations. To further my point I have to quote an article written in Vanity Fair magazine in 1925 by art critic Guy Pene Du Bois. Mr Du Bois states that an illustrator,'s work can not be judged in the same context as a non-commercial drawing or painting. Because a painting is a finished work of art. An illustration that is meant for publication "is not a finished work of work. It is exactly the equivalent of the etcher's plate." The final output is the printed page of the magazine or book. With this in mind Raleigh created a style of drawing that worked with the limitations and capibilities of the printing process being used at the time. As these printing processes became successful at reproducing line,texture and color he adapted and his work became more complex and detailed. There is also another reality at play here. As a commercial artist he worked at various levels of complexity and detail. He developed many styles from simple cartoon like sketches to loose watercolor drawings and very complex layered and tight draftsman like illustrations that consumed a great amount of his time. The use of these various styles were dictated both by the art director of the publication and the fees that were made available to him.

John Collier said...

I am embarrassed that I have only known this artists work for a couple of years. Now I can't get enough of it. What a wonderful draftsman. Affordable, if you want to collect.
John Collier

Anne Rees said...

I am one of the grand-daughters of Henry Raleigh. I have a number of his works and love them as they are beautiful but I have no real emotional connection to them. While his first wife and family may have lived well off his success, the stories, if any, I heard of him growing up were not filled with love and admiration- my father, an artist in his own right, did not have a charmed childhood. He did go one to teach but I doubt he would have confided in a student about the death of his father.

Mike M said...

I happened upon a exhibit of his work at the Maitland Art Center in Orlando. The show featured a number of his original illustrations. My first impression was that he was a devotee of Lautrec, the bold contrasts, the out of ordinary view points. The line work seems chaotic but it was that line work that provided the energy to the scene being depicted. I was in awe at his talent.

Ann O'Daniel said...

I am another grandchild of Henry Raleigh by his first marriage to Dorothy Scott Raleigh and I also have a collection of his work. I am presently researching to find the stories that went with the illustrations I have and would really love to connect with other grandchildren who can fill in the pieces of the puzzle in my understanding of the family history.
I lost touch with my mother Nora Raleigh (youngest of the first marriage) after my parents were divorced, but what I did know was not a happy picture. Please let me know if you would like to connect for a phone conversation or meeting. said...

You have not approved my last comment but I'd like to draw your attention to a mistake in the profile of HR: As his New York Times obituary states, Henry Patrick Raleigh died in 1945 not 1944. I have also notified the Society of Illustrators and the Illustration House where this information has been mistakenly printed on various materials.

Chris Raleigh said...

I have recently published a 110 page book about the history of the artist and his rise to the top of the field of commercial art in the early 1900’s. The book is a full color, large, hard bound table top book and contains hundreds of his illustrations. You can view the entire book and purchase it on line at Go to the site's bookstore and type in Henry Raleigh.
I have been collecting my grandfather’s illustrations and researching his prolific contribution to the Golden Age of American Illustration since 1989. Over the past 23 years I have amassed the largest known collection of his original artwork. Today "THE HENRY RALEIGH ARCHIVE contains hundreds of original story illustrations, model sketches, concept drawings, engravings, lithographs, newspaper articles, and personal photographs. Additionally, it includes henry's personal scrap books, letters from famous authors, artists, art directors and even a U.S. President. In an attempt to view and understand the progression of Raleigh's work from the teens through the 1930's, I have collected thousands of pages from magazines and books that show his illustrations in print.
The ARCHIVE will be posted on the internet in about a month. The web site will be WWW.THE-HENRY-RALEIGH-ARCHIVE.COM
I hope that you will enjoy seeing Henry Patrick Raleigh's illustrations and many more stories about his experiences as an artist working for such authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Stephen Vincent Benet, H. G. Wells, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis and Somerset Maugham.

MwKaluta said...

Thank you for your Blog. I enjoyed/am enjoying this HP Raleigh cross-chat, and, as I read on (nice several years worth of Art Talk) I knew if I kept at it *someone* would finally remind us lovers of drawn and painted imagery that the work under discussion was all of it done to illustrate a story, an article, advert, etc... Thank you to Chris Raleigh for getting that word so aptly onto the blog: It's a luxury we all share, to be able to hold the art out of its context, to find areas of praise that others in The Art Field would claim there was/is no justification for. We all know different. By adding in the element of Intent, an element that "gallery art" only gains by outside review or artist's statement of purpose, brings focus to the one necessary attribute of any of this art: that it "works"... that it tells a story without taking over the story... that it intrigues a reader or customer into investing their time and interest in the written word or product. There are those who look at a weapon and admire the craftsmanship, the detailing, the design and "poetry" of the object. There are others who will ask "Does it work?". We, as lovers of Illustration, get the best of both those worlds: Not only does the art charm, awe or inspire, it "works"... and HP Raleigh was/is definitely one of the Big Guns.

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