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Featured Acquisition: William Cotton

William Cotton. Mr. Wells Evolving a Cosmic Thought
William Cotton (1880-1958), Mr. Wells Evolving a Cosmic Thought, pastel on illustration board, c.1935. Bendiner Fund purchase, 2004.
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A portrait painter and muralist, William Cotton began exhibiting and winning praise for his caricatures of writers and other notables in the 1920s at venues such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Ehrlich gallery in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Cotton was among the gifted colorists recruited by Vanity Fair’s editors in the1930s when the magazine acquired new technology for printing color.

This caricature of H.G. Wells shows Cotton’s distinctive use of color as a compelling means of expression and satiric tone. His technique contrasts with the boldly linear character of much caricature published during the late 1920s-1930s. Cotton was a leading caricaturist whose work was often featured in Vanity Fair during the height of celebrity caricature in America.

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  October 22, 2010
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