Tag Archives: Norman Rockwell Museum

Remembering Walt Reed

Walt Reed’s death last week, at 97, marks the end of one more link to Westport’s arts colony past.

Reed — a leading illustrator, art historian and author of books on illustration and illustrators, including fellow Westporter Harold von Schmidt — founded the Illustration House gallery here in 1974. One of the 1st of its kind, the company is now headquartered in New York.

Walt Reed, in his Westport studio.

Walt Reed, in his Westport studio.

“Walt was a wonderful, quiet, sweet, mild man who taught us all a lot about the early Westport illustrators,” says Eve Potts, who worked closely with him on a number of projects.

“Walt was always willing to share his knowledge, always helpful no matter how small or large the task you asked him to help with.”

James Gurney says: “Genial, good-natured and enthusiastic, he almost single-handedly pioneered illustration history as a field of research. He legitimized original illustration artwork as a category for collectors.”

One of Walt Reed's books on the history of illustration.

One of Walt Reed’s books on the history of illustration.

Reed was born in Texas. He went to art school at Pratt. During World War II he was a conscientious objector, working instead in the Dakotas for the government. After the war, he aided in European reconstruction efforts.

In the 1950s Reed was an instructor at Westport-based Famous Artists School. In 2012, the Norman Rockwell Museum honored him with its 1st-ever Distinguished Scholar Award.

The last time Potts saw Reed was at the opening of a Westport Historical Society exhibit on stamps produced by Westport artists.

He was part of that group. In 1976, he’d created a series of 50 stamps depicting state flags, to honor the American bicentennial.

(For an in-depth story on Walt Reed’s influence on the art world, click here.)