Gilbert, Charles Allan


October 17, 2021

Charles Allan Gilbert (born Charles Allan Gilbert, better known as C. Allan Gilbert; September 3, 1873 - April 20, 1929) is an American illustrator. He is especially famous for his drawing called All Is Vanity. He also worked in animation and was a camouflage artist for the United States Shipping Council during World War I.


Charles Allan Gilbert was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was the youngest of three sons of Charles Edwin Gilbert and Virginia Ewing Crane. As a child, he had health problems (circumstances unknown), as a result of which he often painted to amuse himself. At sixteen, Gilbert began studying art with Charles Noel Flagg, an official Connecticut artist who also founded the Connecticut Art Students League. In 1892 he joined the Art Students League of New York, where he spent two years. In 1894 he moved to France for a year, where he studied with Jean-Paul Laurent and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Illustrator career

Returning from Paris, Gilbert settled in New York, where he began an active career as an illustrator for books, magazines, posters and calendars. His illustrations have appeared frequently in Charles Scribner's Sons, Harper's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly and other leading magazines. He completed the drawing "Everything is vanity" when he was a student of the League, and this drawing became popular since the publication in the magazine "Life" in 1902. It uses a "double image" (or visual pun): it depicts a scene with a woman admiring herself in a mirror, but when viewed from a distance, it resembles a human skull (memento mori or vanitas). The name is also a pun as this type of dressing table is known as vanity. The phrase "all is vanity" comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes, it speaks of the vanity and pride of people. During his artistic career, Gilbert illustrated a large number of books, including Life and Gabriella by Ellen Glasgow (1916), The Soul of the Bishop by HG Wells (1917), His Daughter by Governor Maurice (1919), The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920) and Booth Tarkington's Tender Julia (1922). He also published compilations of his own ri

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