Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From Rags to Riches

When I was a kid in the mid-1970's, I had a paper route of just over 100 homes on 5 blocks in my neighbourhood - a fairly ambitious undertaking for an 11 year old boy.

When Albert Dorne was 13 years old, in 1917 he managed four New York city news stands.

My paper route earned me approximately $30 a week. That was a substantial amount of pocket money for a kid to have in the 1970's. If I had been a grown man 50 years earlier, in 1926, 30 dollars a week would have been a respectable family income.

Albert Dorne was 22 in 1926 and was earning $500 a week as an illustrator.

By the time the poor boy from New York's East Side slums became the man who painted this 1953 piece (above) of New York's high society, he was as much a part of that world as any of the celebrities who frequented the Stork Club.


  1. I tell ya , nobody could ever accuse Dorne of being a 'lazy' illustrator . When it came to large groupings of people , he certainly didn't cut corners.

    Promises to be a good week. Thanks.

  2. Too true, Dom. Dorne earned every cent he was paid, imo. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Leif, I'm glad to see you are giving Al Dorne your usual fine treatment. He deserves it! I believe this illustration, or an updated version of it, was adopted by the Stork Club as the cover for their menu. Dorne complained that when word got out he was doing the cover, he was deluged with calls from the "beautiful people" who lobbied him shamelessly to be included in the illustration. Some even offered him bribes!

    A number of your readers seem to have focused on the fact that Dorne could pack a picture so densely with different figures. If you have ever seen Dorne's pencil preliminaries,they show how he builds these crowd scenes. They are miraculous. I like them even better than the finished illustrations. There are a bunch of them in the Famous Artists School materials.

  4. Thanks for your insight, David - that's a fascinating tidbit, and helps confirm Dorne's status among the elite, don't you think?

    You're right, that piece was used as the Stork Club's menu cover. You can see both the outside and the inside of the menu here

    ...and I'm going to flip through my woefully incomplete FAs volumes for some of those fine Dorne sketches you mentioned!