Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cornwell's Gangsters

Dean Cornwell, Saturday Evening Post, 1947, "Night Boat from Havana" 21x58 in. 
At their upcoming May 2 sale of American Art, Heritage Auctions is offering an illustration by Dean Cornwell (1892-1960). 

A car's headlights shine on a group of captured Cuban gangsters at the waterfront. Cornwell "saved $50 in models' fees" by having a group of his illustrator friends—some of the top talent in the business—pose for him as the smugglers.

The models include: Frank Reilly, Arthur William Brown, Gilbert Bundy, Harry Beckhoff, and John Gannam. Cornwell took a photo as a convenience, though in his earlier days he would have worked from life. Cornwell said, "Life models are soft these days and don't like to hold a pose long." Plus, they had deadlines.
Quotes and photo from the book Illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post


Steve said...

Before turning to Gurney Journey, I was reading the NYT account (with video) of yet another shooting by a police officer. One click later I'm looking at this painting. The mind now automatically has these gangsters pleading, "Hands up, don't shoot." Interesting how the image probably evokes very different feelings than it did when published.

Allen Garns said...

Interesting response Steve!
On a different note, I like seeing the reference photo using his illustrator buddies. They all seem to be pretty good actors, happy to give their best performance, knowing how helpful is a good piece of scrap.

TJ said...

It looks like these guys were having a lot of fun hamming it up. I like seeing where Cornwell stayed faithful to his photo reference, and where he made changes.