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William Cotton painted portraits, decorated murals for several New York City theaters, wrote two Broadway plays, and, in the 1930s, was one of the best known caricaturists in the country. Before arriving to Bucks County in 1935, he studied painting at the Cowles Art School in Boston with Joseph DeCamp and Andreas Anderson, and then at the Academie Julian in Paris with Jean-Paul Laurens. Cotton was a founder of the National Society of Portrait Painters, an Associate Academician of the National Academy of Design, and he was a member of the Newport Art Association. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York, the Corcoran Galley of Art in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Cotton transitioned from gallery painting to illustration, and began producing caricatures of Broadway stars, writers and politicians for Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. Eleanor Roosevelt considered his drawing of her for Vanity Fair to be her favorite character picture.
He later settled in Sergeantsville, New Jersey, and passed away in 1958 at the age of seventy-seven.
William Cotton (1880-1958), Christmas Cover, The New Yorker, n.d. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Cowles Art School, Boston, Massachusetts
Academie Julian, Paris, France
Teachers and Influences
Studied under Joseph DeCamp and Andreas Anderson at Cowles Art School, Boston, Massachusetts
Studied under Jean-Paul Laurens at Academie Julian, Paris, France
Major Group Exhibitions
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1905, 1907, 1908-1911,1915, 1917,1918,1921
Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1908, 1914
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1909-1921, intermittent years
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1915-1918, 1927, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1937
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
The Bucks County Illustrators, Bucks County Council on the Arts at the Rodman House, 1980-1981
Capitol Theater, New York, New York
Apollo Theater, New York, New York
Times Square Theater, New York, New York
Selwyn Theater, New York, New York
Andrew Takes a Wife
The Bride the Sun Shines On, produced on Broadway with Henry Hull and Dorothy Gish, 1931
Caricatures and illustrations, Vanity Fair, 1931-1936
Covers for the New Yorker, 1932
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Staff, New Yorker Magazine, illustrations and caricatures, 1932
Staff, Vanity Fair, illustrations and caricatures, 1931-1936
First Hallgarten Prize, National Academy of Design, 1907
First Place Medal, Museum of Fine Art, Dallas, Texas, 1909
Purchase Prize, Boston Art Club, 1916
First Lewis Prize for Caricature, Philadelphia Water Color Society, 1926
Affiliations and Memberships
National Society of Portrait Painters, founding member
Associate member, National Academy of Design
Newport Art Association