Illustration House is a venerable gallery, repository and auction house in New York that specializes in great illustration. It is the province of Walt Reed, who is probably the foremost expert on illustration that we have.
Reed is also the author of numerous definitive books on the subject, including The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000, Visions of Adventure: N. C. Wyeth and the Brandywine Artists and John Clymer: An artist’s rendezvous with the frontier West; as well as several excellent art instruction books from his association with the Famous Artist Schools, like The Figure: The Classic Approach to Drawing and Construction (this goes on the shelf next to your Andrew Loomis and George Bridgeman books), and a number of titles co-authored with others.
Some of his titles are sadly out of print, like Great American Illustrators and The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll, but you can sometimes find them used.
In his role as curator and chief illustration expert and enthusiast at Illustration House, Reed created a focus for the interest in collecting great illustration that has become remarkably strong in the past few decades.
Though the gallery’s web site is kind of drab and left-over from he 90’s, it does feature succinct bios of some of the great Golden Age illustrators.
The really interesting part of the Illustration House site, though, is the previews of the seasonal auctions, for which images are posted of some of the finest illustration works that are currently available on the open market.
Usually linked from the bottom of the home page, you can choose links to View Lots, and get a list with thumbnails. The thumbnails aren’t linked, click on the lot numbers at the left for larger images of the works.
Here you will find an amazing treasure trove of great illustration, that just happens to be changing hands at the time. You’ll recognize many of the great names in illustration, including many that I’ve featured here on lines and colors.
The most recent auction, for example, includes pieces by Harry Anderson, John Berkey, Joseph Clement Coll, James Montgomery Flagg, Al Hirschfeld, Jeff Jones, Heinrich Kley, J.C. Leyendecker, Andrew Loomis, Al Parker, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Saul Steinberg, Haddon Sundblom and Gustaf Tenggren, along with many others. (The links are to my articles, I’m not linking directly to the auction posts because they change over time and will be replaced with newly offered pieces.)
Don’t miss the links at page top to subsequent pages, you can also choose at page bottom to view a linked text list by artist name.
Irene Gallo wrote a couple of nice posts (here and here) about the most recent auctions on her blog The Art Department.
If you have a few thousand extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket, and a blank wall begging for some of history’s greatest illustration art, Walt Reed’s Illustration House the place to go.
(Shown here, top to bottom: Gustaf Tenggren, Howard Pyle, J.C. Leyendecker, Harry Anderson, Heinrich Kley.)
10 Replies to “Walt Reed and Illustration House”
I especially love that second one, and the olden days when they didn’t feel a need to make everything fit on one line. We can just put in an arrow or something and people will read down! The Wonder Clock, by I think Harold Pyle, had those kinds of illustrations. I always loved that super-old stuff when I was a little kid.
Walt Reed is a saint– wise, generous, knowledgeable, tasteful and a true lover of illustration. His contribution to the field of illustration cannot be overstated
Thanks, oakling. There are several books by Pyle with similar wonderful pen and ink illustrations, a whole series that he both wrote and illustrated. If you are ever in the Wilmington, Delaware area, the Delaware Art Museum often has a few of the originals on display form their extensive collection.
Thanks for the comment, David.
I agree, though I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him myself, I know several people who echo your sentiments. I think he is in may ways at the core of the revival of interest in great classic illustration in the last half a century
Other readers who may not be aware of David Apatoff’s terrific blog, Illustration Art, should click over there immediately and revel in his fascinating in-depth articles on all aspects of illustration, comics and cartooning.
One of the smartest things I’ve ever done was to purchase a few small* pieces here and there by artists I truly admire (Leyendecker, Tepper, Clement Coll), and I always trusted the Illustration House mark on the back…
*sometimes you can get good small sketches or spots that are considerably less than the several thousand dollar mark. Especially at the back porch auction…
I wish I had had the foresight to do the same. Some of the “lesser” pieces are still not getting the attention they deserve at auction, and are selling for surprisingly affordable prices.
Walt Reed is a great guy and the world’s leading authority — easily — on the art of illustration. He deserves to be in the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame for his writings.
Walt Reed is a person that I acknowledge as a friend and walking encyclopedia on the subject of illustration art. Walt has consistently amazed me with his ability to identify an unsigned artistic work quickly and accurately – and boasts a ‘batting average’ that approaches perfection. His son Roger, has further built the Illustration House brand into a major force in the art-for-sale field. Walt’s integrity and knowledge firmly rooted Illustration House and he is still involved on a daily basis although he is over 90 years old!
Thanks, for the comment and the insight about Walt and Roger.
Please let me know when the new website for your Chicago Gallery of Illustration Art goes live.
My husband’s late mother gave us a charming mini-folio with individual fashion prints and what appears to be hand tinting titled “La Mode de Feminine de 1795 s 1900.” She had bought it from a neighbor. There is no publisher (only MADE IN FRANCE stamped on the inside) nor clear signature on the plates, however each section’s title sheet seems to be signed with the name Lisys (or Sioge, or ???). I did a search on Lisys and found only a mention in a blurb for the Reed’s book. The search for the Reeds led me here, so I thought I’d take a chance and try. Does this mean anything to anyone out there? I would like to know more about this lovely little book and it’s artist. Many thanks.
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