Eleanor, Paul, Nicky, Vinny
grandchildren Madeline and Paul
With friend at the Puppetry Museum
Companion (and fierce critic) , Daphne
1929 - 2008
The Grande Dame of op-ed illustration grew up during
the Depression, the daughter of a Buick salesman and a brilliantly
talented artist-mother. They lived all over the country, including
Michigan (where she was born), New Mexico, Tennessee, Illinois, and
finally Maryland. By the time she graduated from high school in Rockville,
Maryland, Eleanor had attended 21 different schools.
After high school she won a scholarship to the
Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C.
She left school after two years and worked for the summer as a
caricaturist at the National Zoo until she had enough money to head to New
York where she studied for a while under the Russian emigrant painter,
Raphael Soyer. From there it was a job as a silkscreen artist in the
Eleanor married Aurelius Battaglia, a well-known
children’s book illustrator and animated-film director with the Walt
Disney Studios. He introduced her to children’s book art and
helped launch her on a career illustrating children’s books for such publishers as
Random House, Albert Whitman, and Golden Press.
After 15 years together, Eleanor and her husband
separated and she and her daughter, Nicola, moved back to the legendary
progressive artist’s colony of Roosevelt, New Jersey.
After Nicky graduated from high school, they moved to NYC where Nicky
studied art, and Eleanor continued her work with children
books. Eventually she settled in
her current home of Hartford, Connecticut, and soon sold the first of many
illustrations to the Courant.
In 1983, bolstered by her nephew and agent, Vinny
Allegrini, she began self-syndicating her work across the country, and
quickly became a familiar presence on America's op-ed pages.
Eleanor gathered her research from the
television, often videotaping documentaries and news shows, then creating
her drawings from the images she’d captured on tape.
She prefered this to still photographs because “on TV, you can see
how they act—their expressions, their gestures.”
She received many awards for her
work including a Global Award for Media Excellence from the Population
Institute of the United Nations for the cartoon shown below.
A note from NewsArt: Eleanor was a friend, a gentle, elegant presense in our little circle, someone we will greatly miss. In addition, she was the inspiration for a whole group of illustrators across America, who saw her work on the op-ed pages of their local newspapers and decided to give that a try themselves. John Overmyer and I both were drawn into op-ed art after seeing Eleanor's work in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and our fledgeling self-syndication efforts back in 1992 led eventually to the founding of NewsArt.com in 1997. So, on behalf of all of the NewsArt artists, I want to say, "Thanks for showing us the path."
-- Barrie Maguire