Atherton is credited as a painter and illustrator whose twin careers came good together. But on closer inspection much of the love of atmospheric detail and firm drawing and composition inform both those works shown in art galleries and those for press and magazines. He was born in Brainerd, Minnesota, settled in California after 1919 and started his training at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1929 he moved to New York. In his essay on Surrealism and American Art (Rutgers Univ.Art Gallery exhib.catal. 1977 p.38) Jeffrey Wechsler claims Atherton as a Magic Realist - pinned to the award of a prize to Atherton's painting The Black Horse in the Artists for Victory Competition. The painting was also influential in that it was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Atherton did many covers for the Saturday Evening Post and also, most effectively, for FORTUNE magazine where his images chimed well with the business/heritage dynamic in this business magazine. His work for DOLE shows him capable of designing still life with surprising gravitas.

Here is a selection from the great visual range of Atherton's work.

top row

advert for Westinghouse Electrical Equipment (Elevators) Dec. 1948 15 x21cms.

advert for DOW Chemicals, May 1950 21 x 27cms


second row

Gulfpride Motor Oil , August 1949 18 x24cms.

advert for National City Bank of New York, May 1952 20 x 26cms.


third row

advert for Container Corporation of America (packaging materials) October 1947 27 x 32cms and part of a series commissioning regional artists to produce characteristic images for their State or for a basic fundamental issue .

advert for DOLE fruit company