Arthur Leighton Guptill

Is your surname Guptill?

Research the Guptill family

Arthur Leighton Guptill's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Arthur Leighton Guptill

Birthplace: Gorham, ME, United States
Death: February 29, 1956 (64)
Stamford, CT, United States
Place of Burial: Gorham, ME, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward William Guptill and Nellie Ann Guptill
Husband of Ethel Margaret Guptill
Father of Arthur Leighton Guptill, Jr
Brother of William Stewart Guptill and Edward W. Guptill

Occupation: Artist, Architect, Author, Teacher
Managed by: Ann Guptill Cooke
Last Updated:

About Arthur Leighton Guptill

Co-founder of Watson-Guptill Publications and co-editor of American Artist magazine, Arthur L. Guptill was an architect, painter, art director, and author of several popular books on drawing. Born: March 19, 1891, Gorham, ME Died: 1956, Stamford, CT Source: Google Search Feedback


All of us know of the American Artist's Magazine, its American Artist's Book Club and their publisher, Watson-Guptill Publications (ownership now is in Billboard Publications). This article is about Arthur L. Guptill, co-founder, co-editor and co-manager of these businesses in art, with his long time friend, Ernest Watson.Together they undertook many art enterprises under the Watson-Guptill umbrella.


The word I have used goes back into early Victorian history: a person with multiple interests and vocations who pursues all of them vigorously at the same time. Guptill's major occupations were artist, architect, decorator, teacher and finally author with the Watson-Guptill firm thrown in between. At all of these things he was good; to them all he brought a strong artistic sense; and in them gained an enviable reputation for his work.

He was born in 1892 (ca) and in due time became a student of art and architecture at the Pratt Institute in New York, continuing his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At one of these institutions he became certified in interior decoration. As a partner (from 1916) in the architectural firm of Bearse and Guptill in New York, he found that he needed to be combined architect, artist and interior architectural designer — valuable self training in the period from 1919 to 1925. He moved freely from the design of an architectural structure to the interior design of the building and then to its interior decoration. By the1930's structure had become separated from decoration and he then concentrated on architectural design and pen, pencil and water color drawings which delineated the future structure's finished appearance.

At various times from 1916 to 1937, Guptill had free-lance periods when he worked in architectural design, as a free-lance artist and indesign art, all of which enriched his back ground for his future work in teaching and writing.These might have been enough vocations for anyone person except for the call of the Pratt Institute and Brooklyn Museum. He was lured there to teach the same subjects in which he had been so successful vocationally. He had the ability to teach in a lucid, expository style, and attracted a wide variety of students, from those in professional architecture to those in academic art curricula, as well as those who wished to learn to draw and paint for their own pleasure.No matter whom he taught he always started with basic principles, techniques, and the tools to help them create their desired results. Ernest Watson, famed artist and engraver who also was teaching at the Pratt Institute, said of his friend Guptill, "The measure of his success as a teacher was that, semester after semester, there was never an empty seat in his classes."


Arthur Guptill had another talent. He could write! He could write in an easy, interesting style that was devoid of artistic jargon used by all too many art school professors. Verbal-visual correlation came naturally to him. He organized his pages so that his beautiful illustrations amplified his text, making his books as interesting as his lectures. Over the years, into his retirement,art publishers would seek to capture the next manuscript that he was working on. These next books contained no repetition. New Guptill books were always on different subjects in art; their popularity demanded multiple editions.

I first encountered a Guptill book in 1959, about the time he died. I was amazed at the list of his books in the introduction.

I vowed to have them all, not realizing how difficult that would prove to be. There were 10titles and many subsequent editions, but many owners held on to them so that few appeared in secondhand book stores. You will see shortly what secondary publishers did to these beautiful books in their efforts to cut the rising costs of production.

I accomplished my goal of having them all thanks especially to the treasure hunting of a grand old man, Mr. E. Weyhe, of the book store bearing his name, and specializing in Art andArchitecture, on Lexington Avenue in New YorkCity. Mr. Weyhe and I would sit on dusty old wooden boxes, some labeled from foreign lands,and drink tea while talking books in his “second back room” where customers were rarely invited. A respect grew between us that must have fired a desire to help the professor from Milwaukee find those books. There are other ways to hunt for old, classic art technique books,but I found this to be the best path to success, for six of the ten books came from this dealer. They have given me much pleasure and learning. In Guptill I found the teacher I needed and could admire. From these beautiful books I was able to learn the principles that art school attendees labor to acquire. Guptill books, as described below, are still available from publishers, notably Watson-Guptill and Van Nostrand Reinhold,who acquired their copyrights. The later books are sometimes abstracted, changed in size, or reduced in illustrations but they are still Guptill books. They are all worth having.

Arthur Guptill book follow in the chronological order of appearance of publication.

1. Sketching and Rendering in Pencil, ©1922, ThePencil Points Press, Inc., N.Y.

This press published a magazine, “Pencil Points”, on subjects of interest to architects.Magazine articles were combined in a series known as the Pencil Points Library. This first Guptill book was formed from monthly chapters in “Pencil Points” that appeared from August 1920 to December 1921, and this first Guptill book was published in 1922. This was the first“How To Do It” venture in the art and architecture field. It was tremendously successful with architects who tended to carry their concepts much farther in pencil than artists who treated the pencil as a preliminary tool in the1920’s. But artists needing help in executing buildings and their details, as well as landscapes,soon flocked to this book also. It set an artistic and publishing standard, established Arthur Guptill as an author from whom more was awaited, and led to his “Step-by-Step” titles.

Source: The Multifaceted Life and Books of Arthur Guptill Submitted by BrittGriswold on November 2, 2010

view all

Arthur Leighton Guptill's Timeline

March 19, 1891
Gorham, ME, United States
May 27, 1920
Age 29
Brooklyn, NY, United States
February 29, 1956
Age 64
Stamford, CT, United States
Gorham, ME, United States