Lines and Colors art blog

Franklin Booth (update)

Franklin Booth pen and ink illustrations
Franklin Booth was a great American Illustrator and one of art history’s masters of the medium of pen and ink.

Booth grew up on a farm in Indiana in the late 1800’s. Innocently misunderstanding the printing technology of the time, he developed his style by copying what he thought were pen and ink illustrations in popular magazines, but were in fact wood engravings.

The result was a unique style that no one else would have attempted, and one that Booth ran with and developed to dizzying heights.

Booth is not nearly as well known as his talent and accomplishments would warrant. When I wrote about him in 2007, there were two recently published collections of his work, one from Auad Publishing and the other from Flesk Publications that are now unfortunately out of print and commanding several times their cover price used.

There are, however, some resources on Booth that have become available since then.

Notably for images, there are a series of posts by indefatigable image poster and enigmatic friend to the internet, Mr. Door Tree on his wonderful (and inaccurately named) blog, The Golden Age Site. The link I’m giving is a general search for the artist’s name; be sure to follow the “Next Posts” links the bottom of the pages for more (and click on the images in the posts for the larger versions).

There is also a little trove of Booth’s astonishing illustrations for Estey Organs; some of these are available in higher resolution in the posts I mention above, but they are collected here in a surprising array of images not directly depicting pipe organs, but the concept of enjoying them.

In addition there is a selection of Booth images on The Pictorial Arts

You can also find some good examples of Booth’s work by doing a Flickr search or a Google Image search.

In addition there is a new eBook, The Colors of Black Lines: Franklin Booth’s Life and Work by Thomas E. Rugh. It is available in several eBook formats. Though not a collection of Booth’s work, it is densely illustrated and is probably the most comprehensive source of information on the artist and his work yet undertaken. There is a free sample chapter available as a PDF.


7 responses to “Franklin Booth (update)”

  1. ceparie Avatar

    Thanks for another great post! Looking at the drawings, I could tell they were different somehow and that this artist was mislead in such a good way will make me take a closer look at woodcuts in the future.

    1. There is also a fascinating difference between wood engraving and more familiar woodcuts. See my post on the Society of Wood Engravers.

  2. That last picture is absolutely fabtastic.

  3. Booth’s art is in a league of his own.
    I live in Croatia and I ordered both (Auad Publishing and Flesk Publications) books the moment that they came out. I can attest that they’re worth of every penny…highly recommended.

    1. Thanks, Valentino. I agree, both books are excellent, and well worth looking for used.

  4. love the shading in the first picture

  5. Stephanie Saunders marshall Avatar
    Stephanie Saunders marshall

    I am currently researching Franklin Booth to place a Bronze Plaque on the family home still standing in Carmel,Indian. He is buried up the street next to his brother, another noted illustration in the local cemetery just up the street