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Alton Tobey

 (1914 - 2005)
Alton S. Tobey was active/lived in Connecticut.  Alton Tobey is known for illustrations, portrait and mural painting, teaching.

Alton Tobey

    TOE-bee  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Alton Tobey
The following is written and submitted by Joseph Dolice, Exhibition Director of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts.  This information accompanied the exhibition, "Alton Tobey," of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts October 22 to November 14, 2003.

Millions of Americans have seen reproductions of the art of Alton Tobey, one of the most famous of today's living illustrators -- in national magazines such as Life, Reader's Digest and American Artist; and in public murals such as at The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City; and in Westchester where his Roots of Westchester mural is installed at the White Plains County Courthouse.  Few people, however, had had the opportunity to see almost three dozen of his original paintings, including many of his portraits of famous people, at any single time or place before in history.

From October 22nd through November 14th, 2003 The New Rochelle Council on The Arts, a major cultural resource for the citizens of New Rochelle and the residents of the surrounding Westchester community will present a special one-man exhibition of thirty-three of Alton Tobey's original paintings, many of which have never been publicly shown before.  The show will be held in the 3000 square foot Lumen Winter Gallery in the lobby of The New Rochelle Library, the site of many major exhibitions in the past by the NRCA, such as its show of original artwork of Norman Rockwell and of Frederic Remington. Both of these artists also achieved fame mainly as illustrative painters, and had ties to the community.

Alton Tobey was born in Middletown, Connecticut and received his BFA and MFA at the Yale School of Fine Arts and later taught there for four years.  He has also taught at the City College of New York and has been juror for many prestigious art competitions.  His work is in over 30 museums and in important government, corporate and private art collections.  He has had over 50 one-man exhibitions. His work has been published in over a dozen national magazines and books, and he has over three dozen historic murals to his credit.

Yale School of Fine Arts, B.F.A. and M.F.A.

Taught at:
Yale School of Fine Arts; City College, New York City; 92nd St. YM-YWHA, New York City

Hudson River Contemporary Artists - President Emeritus; National Society of Mural Painters - President Emeritus; Artists Equity of New York - President Emeritus;
Mamaroneck Artists Guild - President Emeritus; International Arts Association - Past Vice-President

Abraxis; League of Present Day Artists; Fine Arts Federation; American Society of Contemporary Artists; Metropolitan Arts Association

PWA Mural Award, 1939; Westchester Society Merit Award; Edwin Abby Mural Award, 1965; Grumbacher Awards, 1982, 1985; Westchester Council for the Arts, 1987; Lindner Memorial Award, 1992

Tazewell Museum; Tazewell, VA; 16 Chief Justices; St. Paul, MN; Signing of the Constitution; St. Paul, MN; Roots of Thomasville; Thomasville, GA;  Intrepid Sea, Air, Space; New York, NY; Smithsonian Museum (2); Washington, DC; California Bank, Rockefeller Center; NYC; American Bureau of Shipping; NYC; Council on Fitness; Washington, DC; U.S. Post Office; East Hartford, CT; MacArthur Memorial, (6); Norfolk, VA; Falstaff Mural; St. Louis, MO; Three Murals for Saudi Arabia; Jidda, SA; History of Transportation; Hartford, CT; Project 400 (14 Murals); Chadds Ford, PA; Evyan Perfumes/Cheseborough; NYC; Campbell Avenue Library; E. Hartford, CT; Eastchester Town Hall; Eastchester, NY; Liebowitz Family (2); New York, NY; Roots of Westchester County; WhitePlains, NY

Publications where featured:
Life Magazine; Iconagraphy of Stradivari; American Artist; Readers' Digest; Spotlight; Epic of Man - Life; The Plate Collection Magazine; Birds of Tikai - Museum of Natural History; Men and Power - Western Publishing; The Golden Book of American History (in 12 volumes - 300 paintings by Tobey)
August 1, 1961 in Plate Collector magazine (with Tobey featured on the cover): "Tobey Brings Murals to Plates" by Susan Elliott:
Winter, 2007 (Vol. 5 Number 20) in Illustration magazine: "The Curvilinear Career of Alton S. Tobey" by John Matuszak.
Also in numerous newspaper articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Gannett newspapers, and others.

Corporate collections:
ABC TV; New York, NY; Charles Pfizer Co.; New York, NY; Readers' Digest; Pleasantville, NY; Ciba-Geigy; Ardsley NY; American Cyanamid; Bound Brook, NJ; General Foods Corp.; White Plains, NY; Evyan Perfumes; New York, NY

Albert Einstein; Pope John Paul II; Ronald Reagan; Charles Pfizer; Golda Meir;  Alexander Calder; Cardinal Cooke; Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins; Robert Merrill;
E. Ronald Harriman; Robert Frost; Douglas MacArthur; Alfred DelBello; Robert Merrill; John L. Lewis; Charles Picker; John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy

Government & other projects:
Newberger Museum; Purchase, NY; Dept. of Commerce; Washington, DC; Amer. Machine/Foundry; White Plains, NY; President's Council on Fitness; Wash., DC;
Yonkers Professional Hospital; Yonkers, NY; Iona College; New Rochelle, NY;
NYU Law Library; New York, NY; Jewish Community Center; White Plains, NY;
Instituto Norteamericano del Arte; Mexico; American Center; Stockholm, Sweden;
Amer. Bureau of Shipping; New York, NY; The National Academy; New York, NY; St. Patrick's Cathedral; New York, NY; St. Francis Hospital; Hartford, CT;
Elmira College; Elmira, NY; Hofstra University; Long Island, NY; Murray Av. School; Larchmont, NY; Mercy College; Dobbs Ferry, NY

Limited editions:
Royal Doulton Plates; London, England; Lucien Picard; New York, NY; Scafa Tournabene; West Nyack, NY; Numa, Ltd.; Akron, OH

International collections:
Copenhagen, Denmark; Minori, Italy; Jerusalem, Israel; Lima, Peru; LaRochelle, France; Stockholm, Sweden; Athens, Greece; Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Guatemala City, Guatemala; Mexico City, Mexico; Tepotzian, Mexico

Solo Shows:
American Center; Stockholm, Sweden
Alliance Galleria; Copenhagen, Denmark
Mamaroneck Artists' Guild; Larchmont, NY
Silvermine Artists Guild; New Canaan, CT
Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano; Mexico
Galleria Satellite; Mexico City, Mexico
Casa de Aquarella, Mexico City, Mexico
Jewish Center; New Haven, CT
Alice Tully Hall; Lincoln Center, NYC
Riverside Museum; New York, NY
Westchester Art Society; White Plains, NY
Bloomingdales; White Plains, NY
Jalapa Festival, 1993
Art on Tour; 2-year traveling show

Group shows:
University of Delaware; Newark, DE
University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA
Trinity College; Hartford, CT
Yale School of Fine Arts; New Haven, CT
Sara Lawrence College; Bronxville, NY
Bennington College; Bennington, VT
University of Maine; Orono, ME
Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center; NYC
Lever Brothers; New York, NY
Broome Street Gallery; New York, NY
Artists Equity Gallery; New York, NY
Mamaroneck Artists Guild; Mamaroneck, NY
Hudson River Museum; Yonkers, NY
Westchester Art Society; White Plains, NY
Silvermine Guild; New Canaan, CT
White Plains Library; White Plains, NY
Larchmont Library; Larchmont, NY
Radison Hotel; Mexico City, Mexico
Hammond Museum; North Salem, NY
Union Carbide; New York, NY
Mitsikushi; Tokyo, Japan
National Art Gallery; New York, NY
Gloucester, MA
Manchester, VT
Newport, RI

Inca Skull Surgery Mural in The Smithsonian Torch, Washington DC; No. 14, March, 1966.
The Roots of Westchester Mural in The New York Times, Westchester Journal; June 1, 1984.
Retirement Unthinkable in Suburban Newspapers; December 11, 199_.
Biography of Thomasville Mural in The New York Times, Westchester Weekly; Sunday, July 25, 1993.
East Hartford Mural article by Kevin Maywood in The Journal Inquirer n/d.
Tobey's PWA Work in The Aircraft Journal, September 1942.
History of Ships Mural article by Kathy Beals.
Cultural Mutilation Mural article in Arts In Review.
Studio for Tobey in The Ursuline Review, October, 1984.
Roots of Westchester Mural, The New York Times, Westchester Weekly, May 5, 1985.
Roots of Westchester Mural article by Ian T. Macauley; The New York Times, n/d
People on the Move article in Westchester Spotlight January 1983.
Commentary by Raymond E. Tubbs, restorer of the Hartford Mural - 3 pages September, 1977.
Suburban People article in Gannett Suburban Newspapers, July 13, 1993.
Alton Tobey: The Artist by Eve Medoff in American Artist magazine, May, 1976.
Malaren Tobey article by Paul Raae in Berlingske, May 1974.

The following obituary notice, submitted January 2005, is courtesy Joe Dolice, Director of the Alton S. Tobey Lifework Commemorative Foundation.


Internationally renowned artist Alton S. Tobey, a long time resident of Larchmont, New York; creator of dozens of murals at the Smithsonian Institution and many other public places worldwide, thousands of illustrations for books and other publications; and a founder of the Curvilinear school of Painting, died on Tuesday, January 4th after a long illness.

Tobey was publicly best known for the murals, which he called "symphonies of painting".  They were the first works for which he achieved national acclaim after graduating and teaching art at Yale University.  Today, his murals grace the halls of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA., The Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York and dozens of other public buildings throughout the world.

Tobey was a distinguished historian and art educator, and served on numerous non-profit organizations, where he regularly donated his time and talents.  He held the office of president in The National Society of Mural Painters, Artist's Equity of New York and The Mamaroneck Artist's Guild, and was the recipient of many art awards including the WPA Murals Award, The Edwin Abbey Mural Award, The Lindner Memorial Award; and others from Grumbacher, The Westchester Society and The Westchester Council for The Arts, to name a few.

His dedication to research, science and history spawned a career as an illustrator for LIFE magazine, 350 paintings for The Golden Books History of the United States, and for paintings in dozens of other books and periodicals.  In a May 1976 feature article in American Artist magazine, Tobey's historical paintings were described as works of "loving accuracy," and Tobey as an artist of "...insatiable curiosity, diligent investigation, well developed powers of visualization, and consummate craftsmanship."

Although his historical work recreated thousands of figures from the past; Tobey also did many portraits of his contemporaries.  His Brothers United, of John F. and Robert Kennedy; and his Apollo II Astronauts were made into prints and were loved and collected by millions worldwide.  On portraits, Tobey said: "In creating a portrait of someone - whether painted, sculpted, drawn or photographed, we must look carefully to catch that particular unique [personal] quality.  In fact, we can neglect nothing." Many of his other works were reproduced in both limited and open editions by Scafa Tournabene, The Franklin Mint, Royal Doulton and other art print and collectibles publishers.

As a Modernist painter, he was a founder of the Curvilinear school of painting based upon the theories of Albert Einstein.  He had dozens of one-man exhibitions of his Curvilinears, his Fragments paintings, and his dimensional conceptual works in museums and galleries both locally and internationally.

In March of 2007, two of Alton S. Tobey's original paintings for The Golden Books History of the United States, painted in 1963, were accepted into the collection of the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport Rhode Island.  The two paintings were "Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders" oil on canvas, 18.5 x 26.6 inches and "The Inauguration of President Johnson"  oil on canvas, 15.25 x 19.50 inches.

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About  Alton Tobey

Born:  1914 - Middletown, Connecticut
Died:   2005 - Larchmont, New York
Known for:  illustrations, portrait and mural painting, teaching