Known of his romantically suggestive story illustrations for magazines like McCalls, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal during their heyday in the 1940’s and 50’s, Coby Whitmore was a major figure in the wave of new style illustration that flowered at the time (see my post on Al Parker).
After studying at the Dayton Art Institute, Whitmore started his career as an apprentice in the studio of Haddon Sundblom (also here), afterward joining the famous Charles E. Cooper Studio. There he worked alongside the studio’s other major talents like Jon Whitcomb and Joe Bowler, painting his well-known magazine interiors and covers, including many for The Saturday Evening Post, as well as creating memorable advertising illustration.
Like the other notable illustrators who were defining a new style of illustration as photography pushed the more traditional realism of the Golden Age style out of fashion, Whitmore became concerned with the design of the page as an integral factor in the image.
In particular negative space, and the arrangement of figures and objects as design elements defining and defined by that space, became a dominant factor. Realistic rendering was de-emphasized and suggestions of rendering, combined with shapes filled with tone and texture, defined the images; with wonderfully designed passages contrasting the textured areas with the open spaces.
For an insightful take on Whitmore and his place in the transitions of illustration styles in the mid 20the Century, see Leif Peng’s article: The New School: Coby Whitmore, accompanied by his excellent Flickr set of Whitmore’s work (from which I borrowed the bottom two images above, large versions here and here). (Incidentally, Leif Peng has now added his considerable knowledge and resources to the team at Drawn!)
Later in his career, Whitmore became an instructor for the Famous Artists School, a correspondence art school founded by Albert Dorne and Norman Rockwell [Correction: please see this post’s comments]. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1978.