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 Richard Denison Taylor  (1902 - 1970)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/Ontario / Canada      Known for: newspaper comic strip artist, book illustrations

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Ad Code: 3
Richard Dennison Taylor
from Auction House Records.
Contest submission with over 80 original drawings for The Limited Editions Club (80)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Biography from the Library and Archives Canada

Richard Denison Taylor was born in Fort William, Ontario, in 1902.  His early art training began in Toronto under the tutelage of members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*. He continued more formal classes at Central Technical School and, later, at the Ontario College of Art*. His first published comic strip, entitled Mystery Men, appeared in the Toronto Evening Telegram where it ran for a year. Early freelance work included illustrating the pages of the University of Toronto's renowned Goblin Magazine until it folded in 1929.

In the early 1930s, Taylor co-published several small children's books.  In 1935, he went on to create 40 illustrations for an adult fantasy book entitled Worm's End, penned by Lionel Reed, with whom he had collaborated on children's publications. Editors at the publishing house of Simon and Schuster in New York City, to whom the manuscript was submitted, were impressed by Taylor's artwork and encouraged him to send examples of his cartoons to the New Yorker magazine.  After several months of regular submissions which were refused, his drawings began to appear in the New Yorker on a regular basis.  In order to be closer to his American publishers, Taylor moved to Bethel, Connecticut, and shortly thereafter married Maxine McTavish, the daughter of Canadian Magazine art critic and editor Newton McTavish who was a family friend of William Lyon Mackenzie King [Prime Minister of Canada from 1921 to 1930 and from 1934 to 1948].

Taylor's signature cartoon style was soon in evidence on the pages of many prominent American publications, including Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post.  In addition to his humour work, Taylor also worked on a series of watercolours, prints and oils, based on surrealistic creatures and landscapes. An exhibition of works from this series was held in 1940 at the Walker Galleries and the following year at the Valentine Gallery, both in New York City.  He also participated in several group shows, including an exhibition on surrealism at the Whitney Museum which later traveled internationally. Taylor continued both facets of his artwork over the next three decades. He expanded his market even further with regular contributions to Playboy and Esquire Magazines. Described by one reviewer as the Rubens of the New Yorker, he was always included in that magazine's enormously popular cartoon annuals, together with such cartooning legends as Peter Arno.

In 1947, the artist authored and illustrated a "how-to" book entitled Introduction to Cartooning, which was published by Watson-Guptill Inc. in 1947.  He stressed the necessity of honing skills in composition and life drawing before tackling a professional career.  Taylor went on to illustrate and publish many of his own humour books. Titles included The Better Taylors (1944), One for the Road (1949), Fractured French (1950), Compound Fractured French (1951), Fall of the Sparrow (1951), By the Dawn's Ugly Light: A Pictorial Study of the Hangover (1953), Never Say Diet (1954), and Nothing Brightens the Garden like Primrose Pants (1955). As well, he published numerous written articles on his humorous observations of everyday life.

Richard Taylor was one of the most successful cartoonists in a period which saw the resurgence of the art form, in part due to the prominence given to cartooning by the New Yorker.  His more serious works are represented in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Albright Art Gallery of Buffalo and the New York Public Library. Taylor died in 1970.

Source: Library and Archives Canada -

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke.




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