Arthur Burdett Frost, a prodigious, but often boring illustrator.
Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) was one of the most prolific illustrators of all time, and one of the most boring, as evidenced by these examples, which appear to be slavishly rendered from photographs.
Not all the famous illustrators of the past were all that good, all of the time. I've neglected to post his work before but can't ignore him any longer because of his monumental output of published work. He'll be remembered for his drawings of Bre'r Rabbit and Aunt Jemima, countless renderings of African Americans doing silly things that probably made white folks content with their prejudices. I'm not showing that stuff,
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Some of Frost's most dull work was for Scribner's Monthly Magaaine. This is one of six illustrations in a special section entitled, Some Golf Pictures by A.B. Frost, from the issue of October 1897.
Can't you see A.B. running around the golf course with his Kodak camera of the time arranging these people in stiff individual poses and then dropping them on the painted background of the vacant course?
Some of his best work is in line. This was very intriguing so I enlarged it for you, below.
It's from a spread in the May 1898 issue of Scribner's.
Alas, this is one of the illustrations in the spread. I can visualize each model propped up on a bike in Frost's studio. The renderings of the bikes are meticulous, as if they are from a product catalog.
You need something more refreshing, so let's go to a better publication, Century Magazine for August 1905.
The first page of a 16-page article.
Detail, showing Frost's wonderful pen and ink technique.
My favorite of all. He certainly didn't catch this in a photo with the slow film speeds of those days. It's got life!
This is from a spread in Scribner's Monthly Magazine for October 1903 in which the artwork looks significantly better and more dynamic without what I consider to be Frost's usually uninteresting backgrounds.
This looked to be the best of the lot from the spread.
The back page of the spread.
I think you can understand from Frost's work how the dependence upon photography took the life out of illustrating, and how much more stiff the results are from when illustrators of the Howard Pyle school drew from live models and innovators like George Wright worked from life and vivid imaginations.
End of lecture (smile). Thanks for your indulgence.