Friday, September 21, 2012


Albert Dorne was one of the most remarkable characters in the history of illustration.  The upcoming book,  Albert Dorne, Master Illustrator (out in November from the fine folks at Auad Publishing) describes how Dorne used his drawing ability to climb from the depths of poverty and illness to international renown as an artist, business leader, educator and philanthropist.


  From the introduction to the new book:   
Starting with nothing but a talent for drawing, Dorne became (in the words of advertising titan Fairfax Cone) “the highest paid, most successful commercial artist of his time.”  From that position,  he used his drawing skills as a platform for building a multinational corporation that trained tens of thousands of students around the world in the creative fields of art, writing and photography.  Now a wealthy man, he went on to use drawing to help the disabled, became nationally respected for his charitable work and was appointed by the President of the United States to The President’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped.  Dorne consorted with glamorous movie stars and government leaders, amassed a major art collection and was sought after as a lecturer around the country. 

Many thanks to the Famous Artists School, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Walt Reed and everyone else who helped us to assemble Dorne's unpublished drawings and sketches for this book.

Dorne was able to take his drawings from rough thumbnail sketches to remarkably engineered, complex final drawings with lightning speed.

After a while, Dorne made so much money as the president of a multinational corporation that he could no longer afford to take the time to sit at a drawing board and draw pictures.  Nevertheless, you can still find some of his "unpublished drawings" in his corporate correspondence, as in this affectionate letter to Norman Rockwell:


Blogger अर्जुन said...

Dare I ask, just what year does this book begin with‽

9/21/2012 8:52 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for another great week David. One real feels that the forms and actions of the body are giving shape to all the surfaces we see in Drone's figure. I have always been intrigued by his drawings since I first saw that country store drawing in Ernst Watson's book Perspective for Artists and illustrators. I like the way he draws centers through things. The drawings are so constructed and structural that I like them almost more then the finished works.

9/21/2012 9:37 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन -- You have done a great job of turning up many fine examples of Fawcett work earlier than the work reproduced in the Fawcett book (of course, nothing as early asmy example of Fawcett's work as a 19 year old student.). Rest assured that the Dorne book includes a childhood drawing that it will be impossible for you to beat.

Tom-- Dorne had an astonishing organizational mind, both for picture making and for business / finance. These drawings do show off how he built things.

9/21/2012 10:46 PM  
Blogger James Gurney said...

Dorne was such a master of the anatomy of costume. The old-time woven and fitted clothes he drew showed action much better than the unstructured knits most people wear these days. Dorne's drawings make the case for why every art school should offer a course on drawing the costumed figure. Can't wait to see your book, and I'm loving your sketchbook series.

9/22/2012 9:40 AM  
Blogger Donald Pittenger said...

Re Tom's remark, I do like Dorne's sketches better than his finished work. Yes, the same can be said for most artists. But there's something about Dorne's finished work that that leaves me less than completely satisfied, even though his work was technically very good. Hard to put a finger on it, but I think it has to do with his use of what seems to be colored inks. So perhaps my bias has to do with medium as much as with his handling of it.

9/22/2012 6:24 PM  
Blogger Jesse Hamm said...

So glad to hear there will soon be a book on Dorne!

Dorne's drawings, though excellent, always look strange to me. His figures' body language is very loose and free, but his linework itself seems wooden & very deliberate. It's as though he'd begin with a gesture sketch and finish it as though he were drawing furniture.

I wonder if anyone has ever compiled a list of all the Famous Artists School students who went on to successful careers? Toth and Murphy Anderson come to mind...

9/22/2012 7:41 PM  
Blogger Untitled said...

In the illustrators lexcicon what does "Copy" and "Model" mean? I think "Model" probably refers to a physical model that you draw, and perhaps "Copy" is a reference photo or drawing?

9/25/2012 2:47 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

James Gurney-- Thanks for the insight, Jim. Coming from you that means a lot; few illustrators today know as much as you about period costumes. Glad you see what I see in these working drawings.

Donald Pittenger--I understand your point about Dorne's finished work; Yet, I find some of his finished art to be first rate. (

Jesse Hamm-- Yes, keep an eye on Auad Publishing's web site if you are interested. As for Dorne's linework, I agree that you don't see too much variety in these sketches as he works out his figures, but if you check the link in my answer to Don Pittenger (above) you'll see more variety in Dorne's line than in the line of most illustrators.

9/25/2012 11:26 PM  
Anonymous AJA said...

David, I have to thank you for posting the sketchbooks of the twentieth century illustrators. They have helped my drawing skills progress.

9/26/2012 5:47 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

AJA-- Thanks, glad to hear it. I can't think of a better use for these sketches.

10/02/2012 1:27 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home