Dean Cornwell (1892-1960)
Property from a Private Collection, New York
Dean Cornwell (1892-1960)

"Who Hired You?"

Dean Cornwell (1892-1960)
"Who Hired You?"
signed with initials and dated 'DC/24' (lower right)
oil on canvas
30 x 46 in. (76.2 x 116.8 cm.)
Painted in 1924.
Private collection, New York.
American Illustrators Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
P.B. Kyne, "The Enchanted Hill," Cosmopolitan, vol. 77, no. 5, November 1924, illustrated.
P.B. Kyne, The Enchanted Hill, New York, 1924, illustrated.
P.J. Broder, Dean Cornwell: Dean of Illustrators, New York, 1978, p. 60, illustrated.
L.S. Cutler, J.G. Cutler, National Museum of American Illustration, Maxfield Parrish and the American Imagists, Edison, New Jersey, 2004, p. 356, illustrated.

Lot Essay

The present work is an illustration for Peter B. Kyne's The Enchanted Hill, a Western novel which was first published in seven parts from June to December 1924 in Cosmopolitan magazine. The tale follows Lee Purdy, owner of the titular ranch, who is repeatedly attacked by unknown assailants while trying to romance the owner of the neighboring farm, Gail Ornsby. The story was so popular that it even inspired a 1926 silent film, produced by Paramount Pictures and starring Jack Holt as Lee Purdy.

The present scene was published in part 6 of the story in November 1924 and illustrates the following line: "In hysterical Spanish and English the killer began babbling a confession. 'Who hired you?' demanded Purdy." Patricia Janis Broder notes that Cornwell's paintings for The Enchanted Hill are notable in that they "are among the very few Western illustrations that, in addition to cowboys and Indians, include men and women in contemporary urban dress." (Dean Cornwell: Dean of Illustrators, New York, 1978, p. 22)

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