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ARTHUR IGNATIUS KELLER

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Arthur Keller American illustrator


American illustrator Arthur Ignatius Keller was born on the 4th of July 1866 in New York City to Matilda and Adam Keller. His father was a designer and engraver, who became his son’s first teacher. From 1883 Arthur began to study in his hometown, at the National Academy of Design. Here Professor Lemuel Wilmarth was his master. He was trained as a painter of oils and watercolours. Seven years later he travelled to Munich to broaden his knowledge under Ludwig von Loefftz. While staying there, Keller won the Hallgarten Prize and the Academy bought his painting At Mass (it had been destroyed later in World War II bombings). His style was classical, very energetic, with exquisite colours. He wanted to give back simplicity and harmony on his works. In 1892 he returned to America. At that time lots of books and magazines were published, so there was a huge demand for his work. So he became an illustrator and got his first job at New York Herald. His pictures appeared in many magazines, for example in The Ladies Home Journal, Harpers and Collier’s. He illustrated books as well, the works of George Barr McCutcheon, Rupert Hughes, J. P. Marquand, Robert W. Chambers, William Allan Wight, Meredith Nicholson, Gilbert Parker, Emerson Hough, Irving Bacheller, Joseph Vance, Mary Johnston, Randall Parish, Harold Bell Wright and many others. He won several awards for his pictures (silver medal at the Paris Exposition, bronze and silver at the St. Louis Exposition, gold at the Panama Exposition).

By 1912 Keller illustrated around 150 books, among them many of Brett Harte, Washington Irving’s A Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and Owen Wister’s The Virginian. His attention to detail was legendary and it mesmerized readers.

Edmund Lansom Henry introduced the artist to Cragsmoor Art Colony where he spent every summer from 1902 to his death. He built a studio there. His wife, Myra died at childbirth in 1905, and their twin babies passed away too. They already had three children then. In 1908 Keller married again, his second wife was Edith Livingstone Mason. Arthur relocated his studio to her cottage. The pair had four children together. The family lived in Riverdale throughout the year, where the artist had a two-stories-high studio. He was a joyful, loving father who immensely enjoyed being with his loved ones. He had a collection of antiques and period costumes, was a baseball fan and had a keen interest in photography. He always used live models for his drawings, who were hired and lived with the family. Mrs. Keller supported her husband’s profession, she helped him in research, they read the books together he illustrated before he started to work.

Arthur Keller died of pneumonia on the 2nd of December 1924.

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The drawings of Arthur Keller:

Arthur Keller Sherlock Holmes illustration

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Arthur Ignatius Keller illustrated The Valley of Fear. His drawings are beautifully detailed. The figures are as faithful to the text as possible. The sepia tones fit well to the adventure, they create a gloomy and mysterious atmosphere.

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Arthur Keller Sherlock Holmes illustration

The article was written using the biography
by Keller's granddaughter Sally Howell Matz as a source.

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