Chesley Bonestell

Chesley Bonestell

Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986) inspired an entire generation of astronomers, artists, writers, engineers and visionaries with his remarkable paintings. Living to the age of 98, he saw the entire scope of manned flight, and himself influenced mankind's push into outer space.

Trained as an architect, Bonestell (pronounced BONN-i-stell) lost his first painting of Saturn in the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Later, as Hollywood's highest paid special effects artist, he worked on such classics as the original Hunchback of Notre Dame and Citizen Kane through the 1950's Destination Moon and War of the Worlds.

Bonestell kindled America's drive to other planets with a series of stunning LIFE magazine articles in the 1940s featuring Bonestell portfolios of Saturn; in another, a "hypothetical" Moon landing. Bonestell often included tiny figures in his paintings (editors hastily added "for scale"), but the subliminal idea of man in space was not lost on the viewer.

He illustrated the seminal Conquest of Space with author and space travel evangelist Willy Ley, with new paintings of unimaginable sights throughout the solar system. The book so moved a young reviewer named Arthur C. Clarke, that he wrote a gushing review of the book, including the prophetic lines:

"In the years to come, it is probably destined to fire many imaginations, and therefore change many lives"

Bonestell then teamed up with Wernher von Braun, the leader of the German rocket team who had come to the U.S. after World War II. Bonestell would flesh out von Braun's sketches of moon rockets, satellites, and interplanetary spacecraft. The result was a series of illustrated articles for the popular 1950's weekly Colliers. These were sublime visions of the future of space travel that would provide the national will and inspire the bright, young minds that would propel first men to the moon in less than twenty years.

Chesley Bonestell illustrated many pictorial books on astronomy & space flight during his career, the last being Beyond Jupiter with Arthur C. Clarke in 1972.

These four print editions that we carry are reproduced the same exact size as the originals. They are printed on acid-free paper. There are only a few dozen of the unsold signed prints left in existence.

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