Gustaf Tenggren's World

Gustaf Tenggren
awarded member of
Society of Illustrators'
Hall of Fame 1917

See images from the event

The book on Gustaf
Commercial art
Disney period
Golden Books
Dogfish Head
Image Gallery


Gustaf Tenggren's painting

Already  from his early teens, Gustaf called himself an Artist and his goal was to become as famous as his fellow countrymen, artists Carl Larsson or Anders Zorn.

Landscape, 1915

Ordinary model or still life painting was mandatory at the art schools he attended. Gustaf was as skilled whether painting in oil or watercolour, and portrait painting became a regular way to earn his living all from his educational years. In the beginning, he had his family members to sit for him, but soon he had properly paying cutomers, and during his early years in the USA, he quickly gained a reputation as a highly fashionable portrait artist, welcoming affluent members of the New York society to his studio on 5th Avenue.

Cover for The Saturday Evening Post, 1956

One of his most well-known portraits appeared on the cover of  The Saturday Evening Post in 1956, showing his former employer, Walt Disney. This portrait must be one of the better and reassuring of this tough businessman.

Landscape from Wilmington, California, 1936

During the numerous combined vacation and study tours he and Mollie made, he painted landscapes. The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, the Arizona desert and Catalina Island outside the coast of California were places where he found motifs to depict, landscape studies he later could re-use for the books he illustrated about indians, pirates or persian califs. Being disciplined in his illustrations, he could be more free in his paintings and let form and colour loosen up and be more painterly.

In the later years of his life, he became more and more stern and introvert, and gradually grew a depression, partly due to his receding health. During the sixties, he made a series of very pessimistic paintings, inspired by Rachel Carson's book on environmental waste, Silent Spring.

Gustaf's syster Ester, 1910
Still life, 1913
Gustaf's grandmother, 1914
Sister-in-law Anna-Stina Peterson, 1918
Gustaf's first wife Anna, 1923
Landscape, Catalina Island, 1936