On August 21st Dennis Dittrich, Anelle Miller, Richard Berenson, Eric Fowler and Mike Rivkin visited the studio and home of illustrator, army artist, collector, and Olympic athlete Ed Vebell.
At 93, illustrator Ed Vebell remembers most of the 20th century in vivid detail. He has had what seems to be three enviable lives in the span of one. A master draftsman with a physicians knowledge of human and animal anatomy, Ed told us first about his training in art. The Harrison school, according to Ed, was so hard, most students couldn’t cut it, and it ceased to exist because it had no students left.
Because Ed’s life is difficult to put into a narrative we are going to highlight some of his accomplishments:
* Ed was an olympic fencer.
* As an army artist assigned to Stars and Stripes, Ed worked alongside Bill Mauldin, the artist who created the characters Willie and Joe.
* Ed stayed in Europe after the war, becoming one of the few artists to sketch at the Nuremberg trials. His haunting drawing of Herman Goering was executed with a fountain pen and spit.
* Ed began collecting military uniforms in Europe after the war, when they were both plentiful and cheap. He has since amassed the most extensive private collection of uniforms and militaria in the US. His studio, attic and garage are a candy store of tunics, helmets, saddles and swords, and he can tell you exactly what unit wore each patch.
Ed Vebell poses with SI Executive Director Anelle Miller
* Living in the illustrators’ enclave of Westport,CT, in the house he bought from Austin Briggs, Ed turned his collection into a business, renting authentic costumes to paperback illustrators whose work depended on historical accuracy.
* A prolific illustrator himself, Ed also showed us his reference shots of a model named Grace Kelly.
A day with ED Vebell is a history lesson, an art class and a chance to shake hands with the most interesting man in the world. We are proud to now include the following pieces of his work in our Permanent Collection.
interior illustration for “Wings”, Doubleday Romance Catalog, July 1955. Gouache on illustration board
Interior illustration about the Aztec civilization for “This Week Magazine”, c. mid 1960s. Pencil and gouache on paper.
"Gang Fight", Sunday Mirror magazine, July 10, 1955. Gouache on illustration board.