Admiring the art of Mortimer Wilson, Jr.

March 11, 2016


Several years ago I happened to pick up an old copy of the Saturday Evening Post magazine, and was floored by the artwork of an artist I had never heard of, Mortimer Wilson, Jr.


Wilson struggled early in his career as a fine artist and illustrator until getting work for the Post in the late 1930’s, following a meeting with Norman Rockwell who recommended him. He soon rose to a level of being among the highest paid illustrators with work appearing in other magazines like Cosmopolitan. Problems with his eyesight caused an early retirement to Arizona. As his sight improved he returned to a career as a gallery artist, painting Western themes and still lifes. He passed away in 1996.


These scans show some of his work for the Post when he was at the peak of his abilities. The style is reminiscent of other great illustrators such as Dean Cornwell and Andrew Loomis.


He had a marvelous control of values and form, plus an excellent sense of staging his actors in the scene. It’s a shame he’s not as well known as a few other of his contemporaries, but that was often the fate of many commercial artists of his time.


His illustration art shows up in auctions rarely, but you can see some of his latter work at the Tubac Center of the Arts in Arizona, or the International Museum of Art in El Paso, TX.



  1. Mortimer and Jean Wilson were friends of my parents in Tubac, Arizona. I have a wonderful painting by Mortimer, titled “Hangover of a Dream”. It was painted in 1950 and noted on the back that it appeared in The American Magazine. Periodically, I search Ebay looking for that issue…so far to no avail. If you know of this story, please let me know. I notice that the same man and woman appear in many of his paintings. I also have another of his paintings, entitled “Candelabra”..similar to others I have seen online, but no where near as engaging as “Hangover”. I would be happy to send you a photo and see what you think is “going on” in the painting. Without the story we, and all who have admired this painting, speculate on the illustrated storyline.

  2. You can forward images to me of the paintings if you like. I have a small collection of files of his paintings that I can try to match them to. I don’t see any story titles that match those you gave in my usual resources. Often the paintings are titled just by their description if the story they were intended is not known.

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