1972. Original watercolor, approx. 11 1/2 x 14 in., matted, glazed and framed. The illustration shows four cats, dressed in elegant ball gowns (their tails peaking out just beyond the hems of their dresses) seated around a tea table in a drawing room. The tea table is full of cups and cookies, the cats wear fine jewelry. A chandelier hangs overhead, floor to ceiling windows are covered in fine drapery, pictures of a cat and a bird are mounted on the walls. The drawing is signed and dated by Dionysius, along with the pencil caption title, and a pencil note on the mounting board: "Painted for Marcella Curtin." A humorous, colorfully rendered illustration with much fine detail. Item #60888
Dooley Dionysius was 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. 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...." He returned to Saint Louis where he continued to pursue his artistic career, exhibiting in local museums and clubs. 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.