Tom Lovell: Illustrator of History and Adventure


With the Historic Illustration Art Auction quickly approaching, the Historic Arms and Militaria department here at Bruneau and Co. Auctioneers has been busy researching and cataloging the fascinating collection of Carl Pugliese. As we’ve unearthed many color studies and finished paintings by the renowned artist Tom Lovell, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little more about who he was and his body of work.

In his youth, Lovell was an early advocate for Native Americans and denounced the ill treatment of them by the United States government and stated as much in his High School valedictorian speech. This laid the groundwork and acted as an early nod to his future works depicting the American West. He was a freelance artist associated closely with Colliers, McCalls, and National Geographic as well as being a pulp illustrator associated with Dime Mystery.

Lovell’s knack ambiance is unique, and although this type of work is not new or solely his own, it still stands apart from others. The colors are rich and eye catching with amazing tonality. They have a romantic air to them, a feeling of nostalgia and understanding emanates from his work, each like a snapshot of someone’s daily life.

One impressive adventure illustration we’ve come across is an untitled Arctic exploration painting depicting an ice climber in a vibrant orange coat surrounded by blue and white ice-covered mountains, fully alone without another person or animal in sight. The viewer can feel the cold winds whipping just by looking at the frozen expression on the man’s face.

More in line with militaria and military history, we have a color study for Professor Lowe’s Balloon depicting Confederate soldiers and artillery trying to shoot down the Intrepid, one of Professor Thaddeus Lowe's Union balloons, near Yorktown, Virginia in 1862. Despite not being fully rendered like other final drafts in the collection, the study itself stands on its own and is beautifully presented. The work transports the viewer to the moment; the fog and open field where soldiers stand feels almost tangible.

Another military themed piece we have is a painting done for True Magazine with Chinese/ Mongolian soldiers parading through a town while onlookers cheer. Although it is a scene many of us will never experience in any capacity, it provides a photographic and familiar quality, as though the viewer had witnessed it themselves.

This is a small sampling of the incredible illustration art by Tom Lovell we have available for auction, along with many other works from prolific artists of immense talent and historical significance. If this type of art interests you, check out our website and join us in Cranston on October 14th!