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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

The Life of Eleanor Dalton, Part 1

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

By guest author, Matthew Chaney

I first noticed Eleanor's fashion drawings in a lot at a local auction. At first glance it appeared to be junk, but I discovered a few fashion drawings.

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I sifted through the pile and found a small promotional poster from Seventeen Magazine. The poster eloquently illustrated the fashions of the time.

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I also found a notepad page: "From the desk of Eleanor Dalton" was printed at the top and "Seventeen" at the bottom.

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I knew right then I had to bid on the collection and try to make sense of the beautiful mess. There were hundreds of drawings and photos in the lot. I hoped they all pertained to Eleanor, so I could learn more about this fascinating artist.

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I lucked out and won the lot. I spent the next few days separating the dead bugs from the many beautiful fashion drawings, watercolors, photographs, letters, notes, cancelled checks, caricatures, landscape drawings, sketches, promotional material, unpublished children's book samples, and more.

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I researched the names I found in the collection, starting with Eleanor, and found a website created by Marzia Cristina, a relative of the famous children's book illustrator, Aurelius Battaglia. Marzia wrote a 40-page book titled "Provincetown" about Battaglia for her family with information she learned through writing to Eleanor. Marzia told me that Battaglia and Eleanor dated until Battaglia's death in 1984.

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I've learned a lot about Eleanor Dalton, but I still have unanswered questions. I'm surprised that we're just now finding out about her work.

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Here's a link to more photographs on my Facebook page.

About the author: Matthew Chaney studied abstract oil painting at Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. He is currently looking for a publisher to create a book about Eleanor Dalton's life and/or a museum to display the collection.

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