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 Robert Livingston Dickey  (1861 - 1944)

About: Robert Livingston Dickey


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Lived/Active: Illinois/Michigan/Ohio      Known for: dogs and cats, illustrator

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BIOGRAPHY for Robert Dickey
1861 (Marshall, Michigan)
1944 (Cleveland, Ohio)


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dogs and cats, illustrator

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Illustrator Robert Livingston Dickey was born on May 27, 1861 in Marshall, Michigan. His taste for drawing was formed early. As a small child, he was impressed by the skill of his maternal grandfather, a gunsmith, as he engraved bird dogs and hunting scenes on the lock and breech-plates of his guns. He kept working bird dogs and Dickey frequently accompanied him, not to hunt but to observe the dogs in action! His interest in animals soon extended to horses and he began copying from illustrated papers and making drawings of the prominent racing and trotting horses of the day.

The first Dickey drawing published was of a horse -- a pony and a cart -- which he drew to illustrate a poem for The Youth's Companion. He was eight years old at the time. Over time he continued to paint and draw horses, creating several full color holiday covers for the trotting magazine, The Horse Review of Chicago, in the early 1900s. He made drawings of all kinds of subjects and studied at J. Francis Smith's Art Academy.

Dickey began drawing dogs as a means of expression at the encouragement of John Ames Mitchell and Thomas Masson, editors at the old LIFE humor magazine, when he moved to Goshen, New York in 1904. The most popular animal illustrator published in LIFE, Dickey is given special mention in Masson's DOGS FROM LIFE and DOGS FROM LIFE: SECOND LITTER, volumes published in the early 1920s and featuring canine cartoons from that magazine. The Saturday Evening Post began publishing his drawings a few years later and literally hundreds of them appeared in that magazine's "Postscripts" and "Short Turns and Encores" pages.

Dickey also illustrated stories and created covers for The Post, The Ladies' Home Journal, The Century, St. Nicholas, and other magazines. His illustrations also adorn a number of books, including Albert Payson Terhune's LAD: A DOG, MR. AND MRS. BEANS, the Ginn & Company reader WAGS & WOOFIE, and the Barse edition of BLACK BEAUTY.

Although he enjoyed and drew all breeds of dogs, his particular favorites were Boston Terriers, Bull Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Wirehaired Fox Terriers, and Airedales. "My biggest debt is to the dog," he wrote. "He taught me the vital things - the things that I have tried hard to get into my drawings - the expression and aliveness that are so important." His most beloved 'instructor' was a little white Bull Terrier named "Chimmie Fadden".

Dickey died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944.

Reference articles:

THE MENTOR, May 1929, "Robert L. Dickey's Own Story"

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, February 16, 1929, "Who's Who: Robert L. Dickey"

CONTEMPORARY ILLUSTRATORS (1930s): Page 28, Robert Livingston Dickey

THE CANINE COLLECTOR'S COMPANION, January/February 1986, "Those Delightful Dickey Dogs"

Michael Taylor

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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