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Matthew Wilcox
Vice President | Mid Atlantic

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Published: 12 July 2017

The Golden Age of Illustration

Once upon a time fine artists who “illustrated” the dramatic events of history, mythology and the bible, were considered to be working in the most elevated level of their craft: history painting. 

In the 19th century, huge advances in printing technologies allowed such narrative imagery to expand and permeate western culture through the addition of illustration art to newspaper news, magazines articles and even fine literature.

This golden age of illustration would influence how we visually conceive everything from pirates and Santa Claus, to cowboys and Indians. As more and more artists embraced the abstract tenets of modernism in the early 20th century, the golden age of illustration ended.

Less mainstream, illustration art continued nonetheless in pulp and paperback novels, magazines and comic books that flourished in the 20th century. Today’s comic-cons, pulpfests, and graphic novels attest to the thriving ongoing appeal of illustration art, which has finally emerged on the marketplace as a burgeoning sector of the art market.

The Collectors Sale on Aug. 9 includes 50 lots of affordable, mid-20th century illustrations created for paperback novel covers and magazines. Featured here, a few of many caricature prints and drawings by Al Hirschfeld that complement the collection. 

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A World of Art at your Fingertips

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