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Gerard Curtis Delano

(1890 - 1972)

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Biography

Gerard Curtis Delano was in Massachusetts, to a family that traced its ancestry in America back to the early 17th century.  As a young boy, Delano showed talent at drawing cowboys, Indians, horses, and storybook adventures, but his family was not enthusiastic about his ambitions for a career in the arts. They suggested that he consider becoming an architect, which he initially pursued by working as a carpenter’s apprentice. Regardless, he began his art studies in New Bedford, MA, and by 1910 was studying at the Art Students League in New York under George Bridgman. Delano also studied with Dean Cornwell, Harvey Dunn, and N. C. Wyeth at the Grand Central School of Art.
 
In 1919, shortly after his release from service in the U.S. Navy, Delano had a chance to “go west,” and took a job at a ranch in Colorado. It was after his return to New York City in 1923 for further study at the Art Students League that he sold his first western cover to Ace-High Magazine. This led to work with other publications, and soon he was firmly launched as a cover artist and illustrator for Ace-HighWestern StoryAdventureCowboy StoriesRanch RomancesColliers, and others. Despite his initial success, with the advent of the Great Depression his career as a commercial artist began to falter. Delano ended up “flat broke,” but ultimately considered this to be “the finest thing that ever happened to me.” Leaving the big city and the sorry states of his finances behind, he returned west to his homesteader’s cabin in Colorado in 1933, and began to consider his talent in a different light.
 
Delano continued to work as a commercial artist, but by 1940 he had decided to stake his future on producing paintings rather than illustrations. Delano visited Arizona and the Navajo Reservation in the fall of 1943, and was enraptured by the majestic beauty of the landscape and its native people. In the Navajo, he found a proud and noble people that he wanted to convey on canvas; the Navajo people and their unique environment became the dominant theme in Delano’s art, and the inspiration for many of his best-known images.