Who Painted Dorian Gray?

For showtimes for The Picture of Dorian Gray, click here

Chicago Artist Ivan Albright had a knack for capturing the grotesque, which made him the perfect choice to paint Dorian Gray’s scary portrait.

But while Albright’s work could be described as macabre that wasn’t his true intent. Rather, he was fascinated with capturing intricate details, such as wrinkles, which carried a deeper significance.

He once wrote in his notebook, “Make flesh more like flesh than has ever been made before; make flesh close, close, and closer, until you feel it.”

Albright’s father was a painter, and he and his twin brother often modeled for their dad’s work. Wanting to try something different, Albright at first decided to pursue architecture. However, it wasn’t long before he changed course to attend art school and begin his own artistic journey.

Before completing college, Ivan and his brother enlisted to serve during World War I – a choice that influenced his art deeply. Given his experience, Albright was asked to draw sketches of war wounds as well as take treatment notes which could be used by others. The job brought him face to face with the intricacies of the human body – something he never learned in art school and never forgot.

Ivan’s paintings often took years to complete. He began a piece with a charcoal sketch before layering on paint a little at a time. His normal pace was approximately one square inch per day, but this slower approach allowed him to capture his subjects.

In the 1930s, Albright’s painting Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida received recognition for its unique and eye-catching nature. The work was seen by director Albert Lewin who then commissioned Albright and his brother to work on paintings for The Picture of Dorian Gray.

According to Life magazine, the twins were to complete four paintings that would show Dorian in various stages of decay. A model of a decaying Dorian was made for their use.

The final image of the decayed Dorian Gray is hideously striking to say the least. Interestingly, the painting is the only color shot in the entirety of the black-and-white film.

Albright said, “All life is strong and powerful, even in the process of dissolution. For me, beauty is a word without real meaning. But strength and power—they're what I'm after.”