Thursday, October 20, 2011

Laurence Fellows

Certainly there were other talented and noteworthy illustrators for Esquire and Apparel Arts. But those of us who are clothes nuts…sartorial history buffs…devotees of the drapy era of men’s clothing when waist suppression and higher button stances were de rigueur…default to Laurence Fellows’ as the illustrator of note.
But who was he? Here’s an excerpt from Walt Reed’s write up on Fellows…
“…showcased the talents of such major illustrators as Charles Dana Gibson, James Montgomery Flagg, Orson Lowell, T.S. Sullivan, Peter Newell, Art Young, and many others who mirrored the country's foibles in their enthusiastic ridicule. 
Joining the group in the early teens was an ultra-sophisticated young artist named Laurence Fellows. A native of Pennsylvania, Fellows had received his training at the Philadelphia Academy of Art, with several follow-up years studying in England and in France at the Academie Julien under J.P. Laurens.
 Upon his return to the United States, Fellows' fresh point of view, particularly reflecting a French/Vogue influence, found him a ready audience. His style was distinguished by a thin outline, flat tonality or color, with the emphasis on shapes rather than details. Just as quickly, however, he acquired many imitators. Before John Held, Jr., for instance, had invented his "flapper," he was clearly adapting much from Fellows' mannered drawing style into his own submitted gags. Other new converts were Hal Burroughs, Bertram Hartman, and Ralph Barton, who would each run with it in their own way. Fellows particularly liked to play with off-balanced compositions, even in the more conservative arena of illustration for advertising.
One of his early commercial clients was Kelly-Springfield Tires, which gave him the opportunity to combine his elegant draftsmanship with the clever, humorous copy depreciating the competition, thus often violating the rule against "negative" advertising. But Fellows' drawing and the copy had an edge of good humor that attracted a national following and the successful campaign lasted for many years.
In the thirties, Fellows gradually shifted his emphasis to fashion art, including both men and women, finding clients in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The American Magazine, and McClure's. He also became a regular contributor to Apparel Arts magazine. 
With only a limited number of men's fashion artists available, Fellows was most in demand for the male-focused subjects, particularly by the newly launched Esquire magazine in the thirties, where he was regularly featured in full-color spreads for many years…
So this guy Fellows? What did he look like? Was he as sartorially bulletproof as his subjects? I found totally by accident, a group photo recently that included a twenty-six year old Fellows. Here below is the group shot and caption.
"Unknown photographer: A Group of Young American Artists of the Modern School (from left to right: Jo Davidson, Edward Steichen, Arthur B. Carles, John Marin; back: Marsden Hartley, Laurence Fellows), c. 1911."
 And here’s Fellows. I’ve got a trove of Apparel Arts books and other sources containing Fellows’ illustrations. But my goal is to one day own one of Fellows’ original watercolors. Keep your eyes peeled on my behalf.

Onward.
ADG II

15 comments:

Main Line Sportsman said...

ADG....I posted on him a while ago....big fan...indeed the tailgate pict is my blog banner right now. The gentlemen in evening wear with shotgun is my favorite....and kinda emblematic of my theme. Great post as usual and glad to see you back now and then.

Main Line Sportsman said...

Oh...and he was born and raised about 2 miles from my house...Ardmore PA and trained in Phila...

ADG said...

MainLiner...thanks. Ardmore...that's where all you rich white people live...no?

Still haven't made it to Philly. I was in Wilmington the other week...at the big pill maker on 202. Took a moment to scoot over to Chadds Ford on the way home and finally found the exact spot on Ring Road where NC Wyeth was hit by the train.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Lovely. Thanks for sharing. Great to see all those wonderful pleated trousers and checked jackets.

Anonymous said...

High button stances and higher-waisted trou as well. I am with MLS- I love the double barrel with the double breasted.

Remington Purdey-Parker, II

Young Fogey said...

Ifn y'all ever get out this here way here again here, I kin take yuh to the spot where Doc Rickets was hit by a train.

Me three on being a Fellows fan. I'd let you have any original Fellows that I find--after I get my own.

ADG said...

Laguna...my pleasure. I'll post again here from time to time.

Remington-Parker-Beretta-Holland-Purdey...clean up your front yard.

Young Fogey...If I didn't know what a fine citizen you are, I would think that you are being surly and sarcastic.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

His are the illustrations I see when I think of the hey-day. They make me want to grow a pencil mustache and buy a homburg.

ilovelimegreen said...

You know I always keep my eyes peeled for you.

NCJack said...

He's in pretty heavy-duty company there, what with Steichen, Marin et al. I could never get pants to hang just-right-no- break like that :(

NCJack said...

Also, were there ever that many pencil mustaches?

Young Fogey said...

Surly? Sarcastic? Whaddaya talkin' 'bout? I'm trying to get you to come out here, because until the Feds decide to loosen the purse strings a little again, I'm not heading back to your neck of the woods any time soon. So since you seem interested in train death sites, I thought I'd mention one of note here. (Ed Ricketts was the basis for "Doc" in Steinbeck's lesser socialist paean "Cannery Row.")

Second black tie drawing (fourth overall): anyone else notice the ultra-swanky red vest?

And as for pencil mustaches, Fellows and his contemporaries drew based on what they saw, as opposed to the modern "fashion shoot," which is based on the designer's current delusions of what looks good. So if there are a lot of mustaches, pencil or otherwise, then we can assume that they were relatively popular in the 30s.

Brohammas said...

Do I even need to say I love this stuff? Him and Leyendecker.
www.dalynart.com

Richard M said...

Fellowes was fine (hope he shaved the ugly beard off) , but I'll take Leslie Saalburg any day.
Incidentally, the rich white folks live in Gladwyne.

Sven Raphael Schneider said...

Thanks for finding this 1911 photograph of Fellows. It inspired me to write an article about the drawing style of Laurence Fellows.

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