William Cotton (1880 - 1958)
Secretary Hull, c. 1934
Pastel on paperboard
12 x 9 inches (sight)
Signed at upper right: W. COTTON
Private Dealer, Massachusetts
BROCK & CO., Concord, Massachusetts, 2017
The Art Institute of Chicago, 16th International Exhibition of Water Colors – 1937, no. 216, as Secretary Hull.
Cotton was born in Stockton, New Jersey, and his birth date has been given as both 1880 and 1885, but likely is 1880 because that is what he listed in his entries in Who's Who in American Art of 1947 and 1953.
William Cotton painted portraits, wrote two Broadway plays, and in his day was one of the best known caricaturists in the country. He studied at the Cowles Art School in Boston and at the Académie Julian in Paris.
A portrait painter, he founded the National Association of Portrait Painters. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the St. Louis Art Museum and The Carnegie Institute. Cotton was among a number of American artists invited by the French Government to exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum.
He worked for Vanity Fair from 1931 to 1936 as an illustrator. Eleanor Roosevelt called his drawing of her for Vanity Fair, "her favorite character picture,"
From 1932 on, he was one of the illustrators of the "Profile" department of the New Yorker magazine. His covers and illustrations, especially for early years at the New Yorker, contributed to the definition of that era. He also painted mural decorations for New York City theaters such as the Capitol, Apollo, Times Square, and Selwyn theaters.
As a playwright he wrote Andrew Takes A Wife and in 1931, The Bride the Sun Shines On which starred Henry Hull and Dorothy Gish on Broadway.
A painter, illustrator and cartoonist, William Cotton depicted portraits and figures and did magazine illustrations including for The New Yorker. He was also a muralist and cartoonist, and his murals are in theatres in New York City as well as in the Hotel Gibson in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in Easton's Beach in Newport, Rhode Island.
Exhibition venues included the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy and the Corcoran Gallery.