Born: Louisville, Kentucky 1892
Died: New York City 1960
Eastern illustrator, mural painter, teacher
A left-handed painter, Cornwell studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then in New York City with Harvey Dunn and Charles S. Chapman. An important illustrator, Cornwell was president of the Society of Illustrators by 1922. He worked for many national periodicals and advertisers and taught illustration at the Art Students League. He later studied mural painting with the English artist Fran Brangwyn and in 1954 was president of the National Mural Painters Society.
A celebrity himself and a friend of Charles Russell, Ed Borein, Frank Tenney Johnson, and Clyde Forsythe, Cornwell was a regular in the studios of the Western artists. He painted Western scenes when called for by the text. His series Pioneers of American Medicine included The Dawn of Abdominal Surgery performed in the Kentucky of 1809 that was the frontier of the time. He traveled to the site and to a museum, with detail drawings for each element. Then, he sketched his first visualization in ink and wash on yellow paper about 3 x 5”. Preliminary figure studies followed with a model. Next, there were as many as four oil sketches, sometimes made on top of Photostats of an acceptable drawing. For the finished painting, a print of the final sketch was traced onto the canvas with black pencil. Tones were washed in with a varnish medium before the figures were modeled.
Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing