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AUCTION 19

38. ELWELL (or Ellwell), R[obert] Farrington (artist). Archive of five albums assembled by the artist documenting his career as a Western illustrator.  5 folio scrapbooks, boards with string ties, with artist’s printed illustrations mounted on covers. Paper browned and some chipping to mounting leaves (mostly separated from string ties), condition generally good.  One of the albums has the printed label of Elwell’s widow pasted to board.  Provenance:  Elwell’s estate.

     Although containing no original artwork, these scrapbooks were compiled by Elwell and form a fairly complete record of his illustrating activities.  The first album has newspaper clippings and magazine articles about Elwell and his career; the other four contain examples of his magazine illustrations, advertising art work, calendar illustrations, and other materials, including the upper cover of the dust jacket for the Riverside Press edition of Andy Adams, Log of a Cowboy. These are all from printed sources.

     See Dykes, Fifty Great Western Illustrators (Elwell).  Samuels & Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, pp. 156-157:  “Elwell [1874-1962] traditional Western painter, illustrator, sculptor, was sketching the cowboys and Indians at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as a newspaper artist in Boston about 1890 when Colonel Cody happened by. Elwell was invited to spend the summers at Cody’s Wyoming Ranch.  In 1896 Elwell became ranch manager, a job he held for 25 years of increasing management of Cody’s affairs.  Through Cody, Elwell knew the celebrities of the day such as Teddy Roosevelt and Diamond Jim Brady.  Annie Oakley taught Elwell’s daughter how to shoot.  Elwell was self-taught as an artist.  His approach for the horse, for example, was to practice drawing each part in as many action positions as he could.  After two summers with Cody, his 1,000 sketches secured him commissions for Western illustrations. He worked in black and white for 10 years, adding color only when requested by his publisher.  Elwell painted Western illustrations for the magazines of the 1930s including Harper’s, Century, and American.  His subjects remained vigorous and youthful and he painted bucking horses and stagecoaches after he was 85.  Elwell left the East as a teenager, but he retained his Boston accent and demeanor in his entire life.”  ($2,000-5,000)

Auction 19 Short Title List | Auction 19 Prices Realized

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