A haunting and menacing editorial political illustration by William Cotton, likely published in a late 1930s edition of Vanity Fair magazine. Pictured are the trio of Axis partners: Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Emperor Hirohito, with Hitler depicted as the larger and dominant evil force, strong-arming the other two dictators and controlling them as puppets. In the years leading up to America’s involvement in the Second World War, the pages of American magazines were filled with harrowing images such as this reminding readers of the growing threat of Axis expansionism. William Cotton was an important American painter, illustrator, cartoonist and playwright, he created dozens of covers for The New Yorker in the late 1930s and early 40s. The artist was born in Stockton, New Jersey, in 1880, and is listed in “Who’s Who In American Art.” His work was exhibited in venues including the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy and The Corcoran Gallery. Illustration is handsomely matted and framed under glass in a fine antique period carved frame and ready to enjoy.
William Henry Cotton (American, 1880-1958)
William Cotton trained as a portrait painter at the Cowles Art School in Boston & at the Academie Julien in Paris. He exhibited at the Luxembourg Museum, the Corcoran Art Gallery, & the Art Institute of Chicago, before he became an illustrator. During the Great Depression, Cotton began doing caricatures of Broadway stars, writers, & politicians for Vanity Fair & the New Yorker. He also worked as a muralist, & he founded the National Association of Portrait Painters. He worked for Vanity Fair from 1931 to 1936 as an illustrator. From 1932 on, he was one of the illustrators of the “profile” department of the New Yorker magazine. He painted murals in theatres in New York City at the Capitol, Apollo, Times Square, & Selwyn theaters, as well as in the Hotel Gibson in Cincinnati, Ohio, & in Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island. As a playwright he wrote Andrew Takes A Wife and in 1931, The Bride the Sun Shines On which starred Henry Hull & Dorothy Gish on Broadway.