DEAN CORNWELL = My favorite artist.

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Dean Cornwell, who was also known as “Dean of Illustration”, was born on March 5, 1892, in Louisville, Kentucky.

His parents were Margaret Wickliffe Dean and Charles C. Cornwell. His career as an illustrator began in 1914 and for over three decades he did thousands of illustrations for countless of magazines. While a student at the Art Students’ League he met one of his idols, Harvey Dunn (see previous blog). Harvey Dunn  soon realized that Dean showed a lot of promise in becoming an artist. He tookDean under his wing and changed the course of Dean’s life and career.

James Montgomery Flagg also a well known illustrator and Dean’s friend once joked that, “Dean was Dunn before he started”.

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Although Dean Cornwell was a household name most of his life he was not quite comfortable being simply an illustrator  for magazines. He felt illustrations were never really taken seriously as an art form. He once confided to a friend that he felt the illustrator would only be at the top for about three years before he gradually descends into obscurity. Dean aspired to be a muralist . Murals, he felt, will long be remembered long after the artist is gone.

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When Dean Cornwell was commissioned to paint a series of murals on early California history for the central rotunda of the Los Angeles Public Library he packed his paints and easels and sailed to England to study with the great muralist, Frank Brangwynn.

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 Norman Rockwell, a good friend of Dean Cornwell, got over his head when he accepted to do a mural for The Welkshire Life Insurance Company in Springfield, Massachusetts had to call on his friend to help him out. Shortly before it was finished Dean passed away.

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Dean Cornwell died in May, 1960. He was 68 years of age.


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