Robert Fawcett (1903-1967) was the master of the subtle approach. His remarkable draftsmanship and ability to pour himself into his work, without resorting to the usual hackneyed solutions, resulted in a wealth of detailed and evocative illustrations. His belief that "draftsmanship was the answer to everything", kept his artwork consistent and undiluted by fads.

Born in 1903 outside of London, Fawcett received early encouragement from his father, an amateur artist. After the family immigrated to Canada, Fawcett apprenticed under a local engraver, spending his entire earnings buying old magazines to study the illustrations. When the family moved again, this time to New York, Fawcett pursued commercial work until leaving to study at the Slade Art School of london University. After two years of rigorous academic training, he graduated viewing commercial art with scorn. However, upon entering the fine art world, its underhanded pecuniary and political qualities crushed his youthful enthusiasm. From then on he determined he would earn his living through honest commercial work alone.

Fawcett was known as an illustrator's illustrator. His methodical and well-researched illustrations were often commissioned for subjects more complicated than the typical boy-girl depictions popular at the time.

Fawcett's artistic integrity grew from his belief that illustrators had a terrific responsibility: "We represent," he said, "the only view of art, of beauty, to millions of people. If we do less than our best, we cheat them."

[Story illustration reproduced in "From Stone Age to Space Age in Just 90 Years", by Edward Swayduck, Lithopinion, Winter 1972; gouache, 19.5 x 24.5"]






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