Franklin Booth

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File:Franklin Booth.jpg
Franklin Booth

Franklin Booth, (July 8, 1874 – August 28, 1948) was an influential American artist known for his highly detailed pen-and-ink illustrations.


Booth was born and raised on a farm in Carmel, Indiana. As a boy, he was determined to become an artist. He studied pictures in books and magazines, including Scribner's and Harper's. His unusual technique was the result of a misunderstanding: Booth scrupulously copied magazine illustrations which he thought were pen-and-ink drawings. In fact, they were wood engravings. As a result, this led him to develop a style of drawing composed of thousands of lines, whose careful positioning next to one another produced variations in density and shade. The characteristics of his art were his scale extremes with large buildings and forests looming over tiny figures, decorative scrolls and borders, classic hand lettering and gnarled trees.[1]

File:The New House by Franklin Booth.jpg
The New House by Booth, originally an illustration for a poem in Good Housekeeping

Booth was primarily a commercial artist, and his illustrations appeared in The Century Magazine, Everybody's Magazine, McClure's, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, House & Garden and Ladies' Home Journal. He also created advertising art for Bulova Watches, Estey Organ, GE, Overland, Paramount Pictures, Rolls-Royce, Studebaker, Wallace Silver and Whitman's Candy.

Booth lived in the suburban city of New Rochelle, a well known artist colony and home to many of the top commercial illustrators of the day.[2]


Booth contributed to the Great War by illustrating recruitment posters, US savings bonds envelopes, booklets and death certificates for American soldiers who perished in France and Belgium, and work for the Red Cross.


He illustrated books by James Whitcomb Riley, Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, Archibald Rutledge, Meredith Nicholson, Caroline D. Owen and other authors.

Some of the notable books Booth contributed to are: The Flying Islands of the Night (1913), The Prince and the Pauper (1917), A Hoosier Holiday (1916 - first US travel biography), The Poet (1914) and From Death to Life by A. Apukhtin (1917).

Other contributions include illustrating the annual Telephone Almanac from 1936 to 1944, and several years for the Victrola Record catalogue.

In 1925, a limited edition (210 copies) and regular edition of his work was published "Sixty Reproductions from Original Drawings" by Robert Frank. In 1976 this version was published again- smaller in size and lesser quality paper by Nostalgia Press. All three versions are difficult to locate today.

In 2000, the United States Post Office released: Classic Collections "American Illustrators" 34 cent postage stamps. Showing 20 famous American Illustrators including header artwork from Franklin Booth. (Scott# 3502) self-adhesive, serpentine die-cut sheets.

Despite the laboriousness of his technique, Booth's compositions were characterised by a grand sense of space. As a result, his drawings were often well-matched to poetic or editorial entries.[3]

Books collecting his illustrations include Franklin Booth: American Illustrator (2006), edited by Manuel Auad by Auad Publishing, and Franklin Booth: Painter with a Pen (2002) by John Fleskes.


"A Continent Is Bridged" by Booth, originally an illustration for the 25th anniversary of transcontinental telephone service.
  • "I have always admired the beauty of Franklin Booth's work and regard him as an exponent of the very best in American Illustration". ~Norman Rockwell.[4]
  • "Booth's pen-and-inks have the lush richness of a fine old tapestry plus an exciting imagination". ~ James Montgomery Flagg.[4]
  • "I have always stood spellbound before on of Booth's noble pen paintings. They recall today the Golden Age of American Illustration when such giants as Pyle, Abbey, Remington, and Gibson set a standard hard to reach. Booth earned his place beside such men as These". ~Dean Cornwell.[4]
  • "I still wish I could do a pen drawing the way Franklin Booth handled them. The present-day student who wants quick success should be forced to copy a few of his illustrations just for the discipline. I used to do them just for the love of it". ~ Milton Caniff.[4]
  • "Franklin Booth always will be so much better than practically anyone who ever picked up a pen." ~ Bernie Wrightson.[5]

Roy Krenkel cited Booth as an influence and dedicated some of his paintings to him.


  1. Reed, Walt and Roger, The Illustrator in America 1880-1980, page 89. Madison Square Press, Inc., 1984.
  2. New Rochelle - Arts City
  3. Reed, 1984, p. 89.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 20 Masterpieces, Frances Publishing. N.Y. 1947.
  5. Master of the Macabre Bernie Wrightson. 2008-11-02.

External links