The Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York is currently presenting an exhibition exploring the history of romance illustration.
The Arkell Museum recently built a modern new addition with plenty of space for their permanent collection of Homer, Dewing, Inness, and even a full-size copy of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Now they have ample space for special and traveling exhibitions.
The “Love Story” show, on view through May 3, contains 53 original illustrations borrowed from the New Britain Museum of American Art.
The artwork illustrated amorous stories from the books and magazines published during the Golden Age of illustration. Many of the great illustrators are represented: James Montgomery Flagg, Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell, Henry Raleigh, Coby Whitmore, Al Parker, Pruett Carter (shown above), and Alice Barber Stephens.
Arkell’s curator Diane Forsberg explained the changes in social history reflected by the artwork. “The goal was for women to get married and stay married, no matter what,” she said, “and it stayed that way” even into the 60s and 70s when the final works were created.
Guest curator Martha Hoppin observed, “about half the works shown here accompanied stories about troubled marriages.” But they all had happy endings. The advent of television soap operas undercut the demand for illustrated women’s magazines and most of the illustrators found work in paperbacks or other places.
The guard told us, “People come in here and they spend a lot of time looking at the art.”
Arkell Museum, link.