Tobey The Man

      Master of Realism

    Beyond Realism
        LIFE & WORK                               MURALS                            FRAGMENTS       
  SOCIAL COMMENTARY                     PORTRAITS                       CURVILINEARS     
       OUTLINE BIO                              PUBLISHED                              LATIN           

ALTON S. TOBEY

 Works on Paper

     STUDIES FOR SOME OF TOBEY'S BEST-KNOWN PAINTINGS

          Although most of Tobey's best  known public art consists of paintings, he was an accomplished draughtsman and sketch artist as well. In the course of developing his many murals and other historical works, he completed literally hundreds of preliminary drawings, sketches and studies before a single brushstroke would be laid to canvas. The works on paper below are a few examples of these.

 
Potemkin Study
#806. Charcoal on Illustration board, 10.75 x 21.5

          In the sketch above for his Life magazine series on The Russian Revolution, Tobey needed to convey the emotions and anger of the men on board who were ordered to execute their own crew mates who had disobeyed orders. This preliminary sketch finally resolved into the finished painting, which can been seen below.



STUDIES FOR THE "TREPHINATIONS" MURAL

          In these sketches below for Tobey's Trephination mural at the Smithsonian Institution there is gradual refinement and progression from gestalt to finer and finer detail, apparent in the clothing and pottery, with various elements rearranged and edited.






Trephination Study 1
#804. Charcoal on illustration board, 19 x 30


Trephination Study 2
#296. Charcoal on illustration board, 28 x 50 


 Trephination Study 3
#160. Charcoal on paper, 28 x 50


STUDIES FOR "EPIC OF MAN"

        The Neolithic Age studies, for the Time-Life book "Epic of Man" on the other hand, show Tobey's meticulous reworking of the placement and attitudes of the people, animals and buildings in the scene; the horizon and perspective and many other elements that were often rearranged again and again in these studies until the artist was satisfied that they would render correctly in the finished painting.








Neolithic Man study
#632. Charcoal on illustration board, 11 x 30

 
Neolithic Man study 2
#793.
Charcoal on illustration board, 20 x 30

 
 Neolithic Man study 3
#563.
Charcoal on masonite, 20 x 50
 

        Practically all of Tobey's paintings involved a great deal of serious preliminary work on paper before they were to finally evolve into finished paintings. The few examples below are some of his charcoal drawings for other paintings done for Life magazine's Epic of Man.

 
 #805. Charcoal
on illustration board
10.75 x 30

 
#628. Charcoal on illustration board
20 x 30

 
#641. Charcoal
on illustration board
10 x 15

Many of the illustrations in Epic of Man depicted violence. The artist's challenge was to portray furious movement and agression.

 
Battle Study
#211. Charcoal on paper, 21 x 61

 
Warriors
#379. Charcoal on board, 12 x 20

 
War Study
#639. Charcoal on board, 20 x 30

The spears in the scene to the left direct the eye to the focus of the battle, from the point of view of the attacker to that of the the attacked.

 
Battle
#640. Charcoal on board, 20 x 30

 
Fleeing
#791.Charcoal on board, 20 x 30

        Other Epic of Man studies are more serene, but when human expression in the detail of a face needed rendering in a particular and detailed way to affect the empathy of the viewer, Tobey always did detailed drawings of the most important people or central parts of all of these paintings.

 
Worker
#112. Charcoal
on paper, 21 x 10

 
Worker 2
#111. Charcoal on paper, 18 x 14

 
Samaritan
#167. Charcoal
on paper, 26.5 x 19.5

         

STUDIES FOR THE "MUTILATIONS" MURAL

          Here are some progressive stages in the development of the Smithsonian mural Cultural Mutilations in the Pursuit of Beauty, a display showing the extent cultures throughout history have gone through to augment their bodies with decoration, distortion and mutilation.

 
Mutilation Study 1
#647. Charcoal on illustration brd
14 x 24

 
Mutilation Study 2
#620. Charcoal on illustration brd
14 x 24

 
Mutilation Study 3
#148. Charcoal on illustration board,  28 x 48

         

STUDIES FOR THE SIX MAC ARTHUR MEMORIAL MURALS

          Tobey chronicled the career of General Douglas MacArthur in a series of six murals that are on permanent exhibition at The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA. The sketches below are a few that were done in the early stages of the development of the finished paintings.

 

Study for a MacArthur Mural
#281. Charcoal on tagboard, 21 x 39

 


 MacArthur's March
#802. Charcoal on illustration board
20 x 30

 


Mural detail
#597.Oil on canvas
80 x 58

 


General's Vision
#321. Ink on paper, 8.5 x 10
 

  Study for 'Reflections'
#800. Oil on illustration board
10.5 x 20

 
MacArthur's Time
#801. Charcoal on illustration board
10.5 x 20

         

STUDIES FOR "THE HISTORY OF SHIPBUILDING" MURAL

          Tobey created many sketches for The History of Shipbuilding project, a few of which are shown below. The finished mural was instaalled in the lobby of the American Bureau of Shipbuilding headquarters building in New York City, but was moved some years later to their new headquarters, now in Houston Texas.

 

  Study for 'The History of Shipbuilding' Mural
#147. Charcoal on foamcore
14 x 50


Shipbuilding

#633. Ink/charcoal on paper, 9 x 10.5


         

STUDIES FOR THE "A MORE PERFECT UNION " CONSTITUTIONAL MURAL

          The two preliminary sketches below for A More Perfect Union show Tobey's progression from his original concept for the painting from a pencil drawing to a larger one in charcoal, well before the original painting was completed. The final painting was reproduced and published as a collectible offset litho print that can be seen to the right, and over 25,000 copies were distributed to schools throughout the country.

 
A More Perfect Union study
#636. Graphite on paper
9 x 13

 
The 'Union' study 2
#139. Charcoal on foamcore
24 x 36

 
A More Perfect Union print
#415. Ink on paper
16 x 20

          Tobey did many preliminary studies for almost all of his paintings. A few of these, for paintings for The Golden Books History of the United States and others are shown below.

 
Historical studies
#807. Charcoal on paper
20 x 30


Historical Studies
#808. Charcoal on paper
30 x 20

 

          Even Tobey's modernist works were planned with exacting precision. This sketch combines subjects in two of his previous already completed paintings, Tiger and Bull into a third composition for a painting that was considered, but never completed.

 

Tiger and Bull
#453. Charcoal on illustration board, 16.5 x 23.5

          Tobey's works for his commissioned collectibles editions were always meticulously planned, both to satisfy the requirements of his publishers, as well as his own artistic sensibilities. Preparatory studies for two of his plate commisions are shown below.

 
Winter Landscape plate
#622. Graphite on paper
10.5 x 10.5

 
Olympic plate study
#645. collage on cardboard
30 x 30

THE PORTRAIT STUDIES

          Family and friends were often subjects of portraits in graphite or other mediums that were preliminary to paintings that were somtimes completed, and sometimes not.

 
Portrait of Boy
#424. Graphite on paper
13 x 10

 
Portrait of Baby
#119. Graphite on paper
12 x 10

 
Portrait of a Girl
#416. Graphite on paper
13 x 10


Papa Phillip
#516. Charcoal on paper
16 x 12


Portrait of a Lady
#493. Oil/charcoal on linen
32 x 26


 Figure Bust study
#618. Charcoal on paper
30 x 20

 
David, Judy & Cat
#642
Graphite/illustration bd.
14 x 17

 
David
#463
Graphite on paper
21.5 x 18

 
David 2
#733
Charcoal
14 x 7.25


STUDIES FOR SCULPTURAL IDEAS

          Throughout his career Tobey did hundreds of sketches for figurative and abstract works that were intentioned to ultimately become three dimensional sculptures. Some of his earliest ones, done during the WPA era are shown below. For more details on the "Climbers" immediately below, see the Grapefruit Moon Gallery web site (link on the title line).

 



Climbers, ca. 1940
Tempera on wood panel, 10x15.5

Available from Grapefruit Moon Gallery

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Climber
#649. Charcoal on board
30 x 20

 
Climber 2
#635.Charcoal on board
28 x 22

 
Climber 3
#329. Charcoal on board
30 x 20

          As this website grows, we will be adding more of these preliminary sketches and other works on paper by Alton Tobey. Please use the navigation controls below to return to the page you visited prior to this one, or your browser's "back" button, which should bring you there.


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The Alton Tobey Collection

Judith Tobey, David Tobey; Directors

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