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Admiring the art of Mortimer Wilson, Jr.

March 11, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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