Featured Acquisition: William Cotton
Cotton (1880-1958), Mr.
Wells Evolving a Cosmic Thought, pastel
on illustration board, c.1935.
Bendiner Fund purchase, 2004.
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
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.