ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR STORYBOARDS CREATED BY DOOLEY DIONYSIUS, A SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI ARTIST WHO WORKED FOR THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS, AND THE PUBLIC WORKS OF ART PROJECT (PART OF THE CIVIL WORKS ADMINISTRATION, A PRECURSOR TO THE WPA) IN THE 1930's.
(ca.1930's). A group of 57 meticulously hand-drawn and richly colored illustrations by Dooley Dionysius: 24 panels created to illustrate "Pinocchio," each approx. 14 1/2 x 11 1/2 in., on stiff buff card stock or art paper (including a mock-up of the title page, 16 panels split between a color illustration and a penciled sample line or two of text, 1 page of black & white design illustrations for chapter ends, and 6 full page color illustrations); and 33 panels for an original tale entitled "The Story of the Taj Mahal," on stiff buff card stock or art paper, in varying sizes from 9 x 12 in. up to 16 1/2 x 23 in. (including a full color title page, a pen & ink and black watercolor title page, 24 pen & ink and black watercolor illustrations, and 7 full color illustrations, 5 of which are matted [some old staining to mats]). Traces of mounting on versos of most of the images. Dionysius was known for his almost microscopic brush strokes, fanciful designs, and jewel-like painting, often compared by critics to Persian miniatures. His work was exhibited in many St. Louis galleries in the 1930's (including the St. Louis Art Center where two of the "Pinocchio" drawings were displayed), as well as at shows in Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the California Water Color Society, and Marguerite Zimbalist's Twenty Dollar Gallery. Item #60697
Born in Kirkwood, Missouri, H.J. "Dooley" Dionysius attended the Washington University School of Fine Arts in the mid-1920's. He spent 10 years in Hollywood working alternately as a jewelry designer, an apprentice to Willy Pogany designing murals for William Randolph Hearst, and in the art department at the Walt Disney studios. In 1932, the Healy Galleries in St. Louis mounted a one-man show of his works. A story by Guy Forshey in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on March 13, 1932 describes Dionysius' work: “His subject matter is of a nature that lends itself admirably to his peculiar style of treatment. He paints pure fancy. His scenes are almost invariably placed on lost continents or in lands which have existed only in the imagination of men.... Unlike most water color painters, he does not blend color into color, but builds color on color producing an opaque effect.” He often worked in miniature, and critical reviews of his watercolors remark on their exotic nature: "The tiny still life arrangements of flowers remind one of medallions in enamel or semi-precious stones. In all of these the draughtsmanship is meticulous and the compositions are so perfectly in balance that you do not think of such an element as deliberate composition in connection with them. You feel the rhythm of the dancing figures, the swing of the boats and the swell of the waves...." His work for the PWAP/CWA during the 1930's included creation of a mural of Mother Goose for the Benton School Kindergarten in St. Louis.
Dionysius' ambition was to write and illustrate childrens books. According to brief biographies in "Artists in California, 1786-1940," by Edan Hughes and in "Who's Who in American Art 1936-41," he was the author/illustrator of two books, "Black Opal," and a version of "Mother Goose Rhymes." The Census records of 1940, record him in New York City as a lodger, his profession listed as "illustrator," most likely looking to find a market for his other book designs. We have found no record that either his "Pinocchio" or his "Story of the Taj Mahal" was ever published.