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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

The Life of Eleanor Dalton, Part 2

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

By guest author, Matthew Chaney

I'm surprised that it was I who discovered Eleanor Dalton's collection at a local auction here in Vermont, where I live, but I fell in love with it all. I knew I had to "save" the artwork.

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Following the auction, I spent the entire weekend cleaning up and organizing the materials, and learning about Eleanor.

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The next weekend I photographed many of the pieces in Eleanor's collection (there were over 500 pieces in total), and uploaded them to my Facebook page.

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Eleanor's resume and cover letter are there, which cover her career up to the late 1960's or so.

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Her resume says that she graduated from the Cooper Union and studied fashion drawing for a year at Parsons, and attended L.A.C.C. I believe Eleanor was from Los Angeles, California. I found a document that appears to be for Eleanor's mother that has an L.A. address.

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I googled many of the names I found in Eleanor's letters, on envelopes, and on scraps of paper and photos. One of the names I found was filmmaker/critic, Gideon Bachmann, who is still alive - 87 years old! I found him through a film website in Germany, where he lives and works. Gideon was thrilled to hear from me. For many years, he had wondered what had happened to Eleanor. Gideon was in Federico Fellini's well-known film 8 1/2. In the early 1970s he made a documentary film about Fellini. Gideon has remained active in the film industry to this day.

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Eleanor's resume also mentions working from 1964 to 1968 at Seventeen Magazine as a designer in the promotions department. There are a few interesting samples of her promotional work that demonstrate the fashion illustration skills she developed at Parsons.

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I found a cover letter she wrote for an application for a Promotion Art Director position at the New York Times in 1971, but I don’t know if she got the job. Eleanor started out at Parade Magazine and worked for three publishing companies: Grolier, Unicorn & Moore.

There's other documentation as well: names, dates, and notes written on the backs of photographs. Also, postcards, letters from friends of Eleanor's, and several letters that Eleanor wrote but never managed to mail. I'm a bit confused about part of her collection. There are many older photos in the collection that are from Stockton-on-Tees, England.

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One of the names that I see a lot on the photos from England is Eleanor Finney.

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Auerelius Battaglia was Eleanor Dalton's longtime boyfriend. Marzia Cristina, a relative of Battaglia's who lives in Sicily, wrote a 40 page book about Battaglia for her family. Marzia credits Eleanor on her website (which is how my Google search found her site) because Marzia had gathered her background information on Battaglia by corresponding with Eleanor. I've been in contact with Marzia, who told me about Eleanor dating Battaglia. Eleanor & Aurelius lived together in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Marzia told me that she thought some of the drawings I have on my Facebook page were made by Battaglia – landscape drawings of Italy...

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... a children's book-styled drawing of a cat playing a guitar...

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... and a few small sketches in a drawing tablet.

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I asked Marzia if she would "Like" the drawings she thought were Battaglia's, so I could see which drawings were his. One of the most interesting drawings attributed to Battaglia is one of an angry cartoon man using a variety of Italian swear words, alongside two funny handwritten comments by two of his friends.

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I found a record online that mentions that an Eleanor Dalton passed away here in Morrisville, Vermont. It states that "Eleanor E. Dalton . . . was born on January 6, 1932 [ . . . and] died on April 7, 2002 at 70 years old.”

About the author: Matthew Chaney studied abstract oil painting at Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. He is currently looking for a publisher to create a book about Eleanor Dalton's life and/or a museum to display the collection.

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