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 Gerard Curtis Delano  (1890 - 1972)

About: Gerard Curtis Delano
 

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Lived/Active: Colorado/Illinois/Massachusetts      Known for: Indian genre and landscape painting, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Marion, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, Gerard Delano, with a strong New England heritage, became a well-known illustrator and fine-art painter of western scenes, particularly Navajo Indians in landscape.

He was the son of a sea captain and named for Gerard Curtis, the man who owned the ship that his father commanded.  He began his art studies in New Bedford and as a youth sold illustrations to Life Magazine.  His first training was at the Swaine Free School of Design near Marion, and in 1910, he enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City, becoming the pupil of George Bridgman, Frank Vincent DuMond, and Edward Dufner.  He also worked as a textile designer.

At the Grand Central School of Art, Gerard Delano studied with illustrators Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn and N.C. Wyeth.  He became a successful commercial artist and illustrator, working in New York City until 1919 when he first came West and worked on a Colorado Ranch.

In 1920, Gerard Delano homesteaded at Cataract Creek in Summit County, Colorado, and built his own dirt-roof studio.  In 1933, he settled there permanently, but found the life hard because of the isolation, lack of art sales from being out of contact with his eastern market, and extreme winters in the high altitude.

From there he took a trip into Navaho country, where the subject matter set the course of his career.  He was fascinated by the colorful clothing of the Indians against the spectacular canyons of Arizona, and he painted scenes of Indians herding sheep and goats, emphasizing subtle coloration and mystical, contemplative mood.

Needing to be near libraries for authentic research, he commuted to New York for illustration assignments.  He later established a studio in Denver, having earned enough money from illustrating a weekly magazine feature called "The Story of the West".  He spent his summers in Opdike, Illinois, his wife's home town.

Delano's work has been featured in Arizona Highways and American Artist magazines.

Sources include:
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
A descendant of Pilgrim stock, Gerard Delano was born only 20 miles from Plymouth Rock in Marion, Massachusetts in 1890. He started drawing Indians on horses at the age of four, which he continued to do his entire life. Delano's first art training started at the Swaine Free School of Design after selling his first illustration to Life Magazine. In 1910 he became a pupil of George Bridgeman at the Art Students League in New York City. He then studied with illustrators Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn and N.C. Wyeth at the Grand Central School of Art. He continued working in New York City as a successful commercial artist and illustrator until 1919.

Delano's first trip to the West was to the mountains of Summit County, Colorado in 1919 to work as a ranch hand. In 1920, at the age of thirty, he homesteaded a piece of land at Cataract Creek and built a dirt-roof studio. Commuting to New York for commercial assignments, he was receiving commissions from leading magazines such as Ace High and others which he eventually did the covers for. Then the Depression hit and publishing houses and magazines began to close. Delano could not pay his bills and moved back to Colorado permanently.

For the next few years he wrote and sold a series of illustrated articles to Western Story Magazine. The subject of the series was a chronological account of all the events in the development of the West starting with before the white man came up to modern times. His research required him to spend many days in public libraries in Denver, and he eventually purchased a studio there. The entire series consisted of a weekly article and a total of 106 drawings that continued to be published until 1940.

At the end of the series, Delano decided to end his career as an illustrator and begin his career as a painter. As his success grew as a Western painter he was able in 1943 to finance his first trip to Arizona and the colorful Navajo Reservation. For nearly thirty years he studied and painted the rich cultural heritage of the Navajo people and gained a reputation for his use of color, design and strong composition. When asked why he painted the Navajo, he was known to have commented, "The Navajo people are a proud and beautiful race of great dignity. It is my idea to show them as I know them. There are few poorer people anywhere, yet it would be difficult to find a happier lot, and I wonder if there is not a lesson in this for all of us."

Bibliography
1. Arizona Highways Magazine, August 1968
2. The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, by Dr. Rich Stewart
3. The Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, by Peggy and Harold Samuels
4. Who Was Who in American Art, by Peter Falk
5. Artists of the American West, by Doris Dawdy

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
Gerard Curtis Delano was an artist who spent much of his time in Colorado and Arizona, painting the Indians in their landscape setting. A native of Massachusettes, he had studied in New York at the Art Students League. In 1919, he went west to Colorado and worked as a ranchhand, before establishing a homestead in the Blue River region of the Rocky Mountains. He built a log cabin with a dirt-covered roof as his studio and set about painting the rugged landscape.

After two or three years Delano returned to New York, where he received many commissions from leading magazines, and attended the Grand Central School of Art, where he studied with N.C. Wyeth. Apparantly, Delano was never entirely happy with his career in New York and had trouble making ends meet. In 1933, with the advent of the Depression, Delano moved back to Colorado for good. The artist made a formative trip to Arizona in 1943, visiting the country of the Navajos. He was immediately converted by what he saw. “Arizona’s picturesque setting provide to my mind the greatest possible opportunity for pictorial beauty,” he wrote. “The people themselves are naturally artistic. I feel a great sympathy for them.”

Delano became renowned as a painter of the Navajo and enjoyed a measure of regional fame throughout the remainder of his life. “The Navajo people are a proud and beautiful race of great dignity,” Delano once wrote. “It is my idea to show them as I know them. There are few poorer people anywhere, yet it would be difficult to find a happier lot, and I wonder if there is not a lesson in this for all of us.”


Sources include: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, Dr. Rick Stewart, Hawthorne Publishing Company, 1986

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Gerard Curtis Delano was born in Marion, Massachusetts, the descendant of a 1621 Pilgrim. He began studying art in New Bedford, Massachusetts and went on to become the pupil of George Bridgman at the Art Students League in New York and of Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn and N.C. Wyeth at the Grand Central School of Art. Following his education he became a successful commercial artist and illustrator working mostly in New York City until WWI.

He first visited the West in 1919, working as a hand on a Colorado ranch. At the age of thirty he homesteaded at Cataract Creek in Colorado, building his own dirt-roof studio. He devoted much of his time to painting and commuted to New York for commercial art assignments. In 1933 during the Great Depression, he sold everything and moved West permanently. Four years later he sold Western Story Magazine a series of illustrated articles on the development of the West.

After 1940, Delano was able to finally spend all of his time painting.  In 1943 he visited the Navajo Reservation: "Arizona's picturesque settings provide to my mind the greatest possible opportunity for pictorial beauty. The people are themselves naturally artistic. I feel a great sympathy for them. They have survived a life of hardship, yet have done so with heads held proudly high."  He fell so in love with the Navajo and their culture that he painted them almost exclusively for the remainder of his days.

His art is exceptional for the strong sense of design, the color, and the simplicity of composition.









Biography from The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction:
Gerald Curtis Delano (1890-1972) was born in Marion, Massachusetts, only twenty miles from Plymouth Rock. The sale of a pen-and-ink drawing to "Life" magazine encouraged Delano, who had been drawing Indians and horses since he was four to take up art as a career. He trained at the Swaine Free School of Design near his home.

In 1910, he moved to New York, worked as a textile designer and attended classes at the Art Students League. He later went to the Grand Central School of Art where he worked under such noted artists as N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell and Harvey Dunn.After completing his education, Delano maintained a studio in New York and worked as an illustrator.

His first trip to the West was in 1919. In 1921, he homesteaded in the mountains of Summit County, Colorado, where he built himself a log cabin studio with a dirt roof. A trip to the Navajo country was a decisive factor in Delano's becoming a western artist, for there he found his favorite subjects--the gentle and dignified Navajo people in their colorful costumes against the spectacular towering walls of the canyons of Arizona. He painted scenes of the Indians tending their flocks of sheep and goats with a deep understanding of their way of life. He left the homestead and moved to Colorado Springs, and later established a home and studio in Denver.

His work has been featured in "Arizona Highways", "True West" magazine, "American Artist" and many other publications.

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