Book Excerpt: The Unseen Art of Orson Welles


Orson Welles was, as we all know, one of the true Renaissance men of his time: a gifted filmmaker, stage director, writer, actor, and storyteller. His skill as a visual artist was less known — but was among his first passions, spending a summer studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and continuing to draw, sketch, and paint throughout his life. Most of that was for his private amusement, not intended for public consumption, and thus not widely seen during his lifetime and the years immediately after.

But now that’s changing. Filmmaker Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) has crafted a documentary called The Eyes of Orson Welles that explores those works; it’s out on March 15. And Titan Books — with the cooperation and blessing of Welles’ estate and his daughter Beatrice — has collected his portraits, sketches, designs, and more in a handsome new volume, titled, simply, Orson Welles Portfolio (out now). We’re proud to present this exclusive gallery of images from the book.

(‘Don Quixote’ oil painting, courtesy Titan Books)

(Introduction illustration from ‘Everybody’s Shakespeare,’ courtesy Titan Books)

(Staging and character notes for ‘The Blessed and the Damned,’ courtesy Titan Books)

(Costume designs for ‘Chimes at Midnight,’ courtesy Titan Books)

(Sketch for Jim Henson, courtesy Titan Books)

(Unidentified costume design, courtesy Titan Books)

(Paris postcards, courtesy Titan Books)

(Watercolor illustration; ‘Vogue Paris, No 632, courtesy Titan Books)

(Christmas card, courtesy Titan Books)

(Pencil drawing, likely self-portrait, courtesy Titan Books)

Copyright Beatrice Welles Inc. and the Estate of Orson Welles. Taken from “Orson Welles Portfolio” by Simon Braund, published by Titan Books, now available. All rights reserved.