Monday, December 17, 2012

Albert Dorne, Master Illustrator

I remember seeing these ads on the back of old comic books when I was a kid. Often they featured Norman Rockwell, whom everybody knew. But occasionally they featured some guy with bushy black eyebrows. I had no idea who he was - he wasn't drawing Spiderman, so I really didn't care either.


If you had told me as a kid that one day I would know all about this guy, have researched his life and written about him and even corresponded with his daughter, I never would have believed you.


But yes, over time, Albert Dorne, the man with the bushy black eyebrows has become very important to me.

With the first few paragraphs of his text in the recently released book, Albert Dorne, Master Illustrator, author David Apatoff beautifully and succinctly sums up why Al Dorne has so profoundly affected me.


Apatoff writes, "Who was in a better position than Al Dorne to testify about what drawing could accomplish? Drawing was the engine that powered his astonishing climb from the depths of poverty and illness..."


"... to international renown as an artist, business leader, educator and philanthropist."


"Starting with nothing but a talent for drawing, Dorne became, (in the words of advertising titan Fairfax Cone) "the highest paid, most successful commercial artist of his time."


"From that position, he used his drawing skills as a platform for building a multinational corporation that trained tens of thousands of students around the world in the creative fields of art, writing and photography."


"Now a wealthy man, he went on to to use drawing to help the disabled, became nationally respected for his charitable work and was appointed by the President of the United States to The President's Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped. Dorne consorted with glamorous movie stars and government leaders, amassed a major art collection and was sought after as a lecturer around the country."


"Dorne was a larger-than-life character with many contradictions. He could be crass and vulgar, yet he had the refined tastes of a connoisseur. He was a tough businessman, yet he was exceptionally tender-hearted and generous. He was both a womanizer and a caring family man. He was a wealthy capitalist, yet when a labor dispute broke out with his employees he was the one person they trusted to be the fair arbitrator of their grievances."


"He overpowered people with his dominating personality, yet he had the sensitivity and subtlety of a professional diplomat. He dropped out of school when he was just a small boy, yet he was highly educated."


"Despite these inconsistencies, Dorne was consistent in his love and respect for drawing, which accompanied him every step of the way through his extraordinary career."


So begins a book that presents a thorough - and thoroughly fascinating - recounting of Albert Dorne's life, followed by a selection of the artist's work that is as broad as it is deep.

What more do I need to say? Whether you are an artist or not, whether you're familiar with Dorne's story and artwork or not, this book is quite simply an essential addition to everyone's collection.

An epic story about a hugely inspiring human being. Buy this book.


  1. I have my copy of this fantastic book- I agree that every artist should add it to their collection

  2. Agreed. I have a copy too and it's wonderful. I've posted a short review and more photos on my site at for those that are interested in seeing more.

  3. i can not wait to get my hands on this book, hurry Amazon and thanks Leif!

  4. I'm so glad this book is out. A hearty congrats to Manuel and David. Keep up the excellent work Leif.

  5. Thanks for the kind review, Leif. As readers of the book will learn, I benefited from your own excellent research on Dorne, and even quoted TI for the single most scandalous anecdote about Dorne.

  6. Albert Dorne was my wife Cathy's grandfather.Her mother Elaine Dorne Bolton (God rest her soul)past away June 21st 2013.Elaine was Al's eldest daughter. Brad & Cathy Wambolt Lincoln,Me ( )

  7. Hi there Love this artist work anyone know his process at all? I take it he used references/photos? Thanks! Greta post