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 H. Tom Hall  (1932 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/New York      Known for: children's books and magazine illustration, landscape, historical and figure painting

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Ad Code: 4
H Tom Hall
from Auction House Records.
Couple in garden, winged sculpture and mansion in background
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
H. Tom Hall (1932-2010)

Combining the skills of a story-telling illustrator and those of a classical painter, Hall became famous as a paperback book cover illustrator during the 1970s, with over 200 book covers to his credit.  These include blockbusters like The Thorn Birds and Shanna which sold millions of copies.  Later his paintings graced the fronts of books like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and Colleen McCullough’s The Grass Grown and The First Man in Rome.  His employers were some of the top name publishers in the industry like Bantam, Warner, Ballantine, Avon, Reader’s Digest, and others.

Tom Hall was born in 1932 and grew up in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania.  He studied at the Tyler School of Fine Art, and then completed his BFA degree studying illustration at the Philadelphia College of Art.  While stationed at an Army base in Japan, he created a children’s book with a Japanese theme that he later sold to Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.  For twelve years he illustrated more books and magazines for children, until in 1970 he was assigned his first paperback novel cover, for a reprint of Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck.

In addition to book covers, Hall completed commissions for National Geographic Magazine, traveling to Central and South America to study pre-Columbian ruins in Honduras and Peru.  There he consulted with archeologists to create exact representations of those early cultures. “It was my job to come up with the concepts for the illustration with the help of (the archaeologists) and researchers that went with me,” Hall explained. “The kind of work I was doing was called reconstruction painting where you do like what it was. I was showing the Pre-Colombian cultures as they were at the time."

After forty years, Hall retired from illustration and devoted himself to painting full time.  His subjects included Chester County landscapes, Chesapeake Bay and Maine maritime scenes, as well as female portraits and Native American and historical subjects.

Hall has exhibited in group shows in New York City, Salt Lake City, Tucson,  Japan, and locally.  His paintings are in the New York Museum of Illustration, the U.S. Coast Guard permanent collection, the National Geographic Society, the Delaware Art Museum, and many private collections.

H. Tom Hall died on May 1, 2010 in his home in rural Coventryville after a year of fighting cancer.

Sources include:
Wiederseim Associates, Inc., auctioneers and friends of the artist
Jan Feighner, "Painter/illustrator H. Tom Hall's weekend exhibition opens tonight in Chester Springs". Philadelphia cultural events Examiner, October 16, 2009

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
H. Tom Hall (1932-2010)

Raised in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, he became an illustrator of children's and adult books and of national magazines such as National Geographic and Reader's Digest.  He began book illustration when he was stationed in Japan with the U.S. Army and wrote a children's story.  It was published with his artwork by Alfred Knopf, Inc., when he returned to America. 

For the next 12 years he illustrated magazines and children's books, but in 1970, he switched to adult literature, having left Knopf.  During the remainder of his career, he worked for publishers that included Avon, Bantum, Warner, New American Library and Fawcett.

His first paperback covers were commissioned by Bantum for novels by Thomas Costain and also romance stories such as Thornbirds, and a series by Edward McBain, 87 Precinct.  For some of his illustration research, he traveled to Honduras and Peru.

Hall studied at the Tyler School of Art and the Philadelphia College of Art.  Among his teachers were Henry Pitz, Albert Gold and Benjamin Eisenstat.

Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000

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