Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ed Vebell's Nuremberg Sketches

Westport illustrator Ed Vebell died last week at age 96. One of his most remarkable experiences was sketching at the 'War Criminals Trials' in Nuremberg in 1945.
Field Marshall Goering by Ed Vebell, 1945
His job was to record the proceedings of the trial and document the key players. From his position in the press gallery, he could see the defendants, starting with Hermann Göring

"Göring still seemed to be in charge," Vebell remembers. "He gave the feeling he was still running the show. He had his uniform on, but he had lost a lot of weight." He looked sunken in, reminding Vebell of a collapsed parachute. 

Vebell’s Nuremberg portraits of Nazis
Rudolf Hess (top) and Wilhelm Keitel. 
Vebell sketched with a fountain pen, which allows no second thoughts or corrections. Since he didn't have any water, he achieved gray tones by using his spit to dissolve the water-soluble ink.

In his written notes, he described their demeanor, with its mixture of a rigid military bearing and a sense of hollowness.

He sketched while looking through a pair of binoculars because he was a little too far to get a clear portrait likeness. 

He pressed the binoculars against his glasses, holding them in position, and then flipped his eyes up and down to switch from the view to the sketch pad. 

In this 2013 interview, he recalls the experience. At 9:00 in the video, there's some archival footage of a Russian artist who also documented the trials, with a more caricatured approach. 

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Développement Durable said...

Wow! This is incredible! Thanks for sharing. The video is awesome too. He is so easy and humble, it's really fun: "Oh it turned out ok. I did a good job" :-) This must have been quite something to attend and sketch at this trial...

scottT said...

Beautiful work. Once at my school we had sketch artist Howard Brodie as artist in residence along with an exhibition of his reportage drawings. These guys were so good that too often when I see modern courtroom art, I long for draftsmanship like that again.

Nixotron said...

There are also some great videos of Illustrator Joe Krush talking about his experiences at the Nuremberg trials for those interested.

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