Douglas W. Gorsline

Biographies | Douglas W. Gorsline

Mr. Douglas W. Gorsline, a summer resident of the Lake Road from 1913-1922, has gone far as an artist and author. After attending Yale Art School, and the Art Students’ League in New York City, he studied and worked in England under a Tiffany Foundation grant.

His own illustrated book, What People Wore (1952), contains nearly 1,800 detailed drawings showing a panoramic history of dress from ancient times to twentieth century America. As a result of this classic of costume and dress design, the New York Times of July 26, 1964 declared him as an authority on costume over the centuries. Other books he has illustrated include The Genesee by Henry Clune, Connecticut by Walter Hard, Citizen of New Salem by Paul Horgan, Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe, Little Men by Louisa Alcott, and the The Compleat Angler by Isaac Walton. Several issues of Sports Illustrated have also carried his illustrations.

Mr. Gorsline has been very successful as a designer of stamps. His most recent, a United States five cent stamp, commemorated the 700 years since the birth of the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. In 1964, his five cent stamp was a tribute to William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his birth. His design for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway was used both by Canada and the United States and in 1958, a stamp celebrated the anniversary of the establishment of Fort Duquesne (which later became Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

He has exhibited his work in many places, such as the Highgate Gallery of New York; Grinnell Galleries in Detroit; Albany Institute of History and Art; Shore Galleries in Boston; Rochester Art Club in 1936; Schuman Galleries in Rochester in 1965; and in 1969 in Boston, Philadelphia and Paris, France.

Mr. Gorsline has won many awards and national prizes. His work is presently represented in 13 public collections. Among the organizations owning his work are the Library of Congress, National Academy of Design, Harvard University and the University of Texas.

Dunn, Esther. Webster Through The Years: Webster Town Board, 1971, pp. 248-9.

Updated Information:

Douglas Gorsline told his wife Marie that he knew as a child that he wanted to be an artist. At 22, he submitted a painting for the Memorial Art Gallery’s first Annual Exhibit in 1935 and was awarded MAG’s very first Annual Purchase Prize. His art was highly accessible and provided his viewers with a very personal experience.

Mr. Gorsline illustrated 24 books as well as many magazines including The New Yorker, American Heritage and Horizon. Later in his career, he blended cubism and realism into his own unique painting style. In 1973, he became the first American artist to be invited by the People’s Republic of China to paint and to discuss his art. In 1984, he illustrated five paperback books for Random House, including The Night Before Christmas. Mr. Gorsline was a member of the National Academy of Design and exhibited in the United States and Europe. He lived his last 15 years in France.

Douglas Gorsline died in France on July 10, 1985, leaving his wife Marie and two sons, John and Jerry. In 1994, the Gorsline Museum opened at Bussy-le-Grand in the Cote-d’Or region. The museum holds many of his personal papers and articles. Mr. Gorsline’s work may be viewed on the museum’s website .

Bar Scene, 1942
Invitation to the Lindy Hop,
Engraving, 1941
Brooklyn Local, Etching, 1945
The Night Before Christmas
An Iowa Christmas, 1957


  • Barham, Beverly. “The Art of Douglas Warner Gorsline.” Research paper, North Carolina State University, 2009. (Note: Extensive bibliography in this source)
  • Nattras, Laurel Ann. “Jane Austen Illustrators: Douglas Warner Gorsline,” Austen Prose – a Jane Austen Blog
  • “Douglas W. Gorsline, 72, Dies.” New York Times, July 10, 1985, Section B, page 5.