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 Franklin Booth  (1874 - 1948)

About: Franklin Booth
 

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Lived/Active: New York/Indiana      Known for: illustrator, illuminator

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Ad Code: 3
Franklin Booth
from Auction House Records.
A spectre appears at a queen's court
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An illustrator admired for his craftsmanship and imaginative works, Franklin Booth was born and raised on a farm in Carmel, Indiana. His career spanned the first third of the 20th century, and hallmarks of his art were his decorative borders, gnarled trees, classic hand lettering, and scrolls that framed his distinctive signature.

As a boy, Franklin Booth was determined to become an artist. By studying pictures in books and magazines such as "Scribner's" and "Harper's," then copying the pictures line by line, he developed a very controlled and detailed line technique. Photographic reproduction was only in its infancy at that time, so many of the pictures he studied were simply reproductions of wood and steel engravings.

The style Booth developed was an amazing blend of antique appeal and artistry. His typical works were crafted with thousands of lines, creating effects of density and shade. They were awash in lines, and yet maintained a sense of openness. Most notable were his dexterity and his imagination, in works that appealed to, and uplifted, the spirit.

By 1907 his own work was to be found in "Scribners,'in an illustration for a poem, 'A Deserted Village'. Soon Booth was receiving commissions, both editorial and commercial, from many prominent magazines. Around l9l0, he moved to New York and set up a studio on 57th Street. He was to live in New York for the rest of his life.

By the turn of the century, technology had advanced to the point that Booth's pen work could be reproduced as he created it. His pen and ink illustrations are distinctive and unmistakable. In addition to his craftsmanship, Booth's art is known for its unusual composition. Although small his drawings appear large in scale, having a feeling of grandeur in space and height, with skillful density and shading. He was known to create his images a section at a time, detailing in ink a portion that he had first penciled. He completed a section in ink before starting in pencil in another part of the drawing, as his countless strokes of the pen would have easily smudged had he first pencilled the entire piece. Creating and maintaining consistent pattern and density using this method was undoubtedly difficult, and yet was his norm. Occasionally he worked in color, a noteworthy example being the illustrations Booth did for a book by James Whitcomb Riley, called 'The Flying Islands of the Night'.

Many imitators copied his technique. Roy Krenkel was one of numerous illustrators who turned to Booth's works for inspiration, and dedicated drawings to him. Berni Wrightson also was greatly influenced by Booth. Franklin Booth's style has a universal appeal and old-fashioned feeling that is reminiscent of images of the 19th century, and yet modern art students also are still attracted to his work.

In 1925 a collection of his works was published in the book 'Franklin Booth - 60 Reproductions From Original Drawings', published by Robert Frank. In that book, Earnest Elmo Caukins wrote in the introduction: "Mr. Booth has done more than almost any one man to break down the barrier between the pure art of decoration as applied to the book and magazine page, and the same art applied to the advertising page. Anything undertaken by him is approached in the same creative spirit and executed with the same sure touch...His two greatest qualities are his dexterity with his pen and his imagination."

Booth's illustrations accompanied poetry and editorial comment in magazines and books, but he is probably most remembered for his work in the advertising field. His two most important clients were Esty Organ and Zenith Radio. Among the prominent magazines that commissioned his work were: Harper's, Century, Everybody's, McClure's, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, House and Garden, and Ladies Home Journal.

By the early 1930s, the changing fashion of publishing and advertising caused a decrease in commissions to Booth. He continued to live in New York, however, until his death in l948, returning during most summers to his boyhood home in Indiana.


Source:
Walt Reed, "The Illustrator in America"




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