Theme/Style – Figurative work, portraiture, landscape, illustration, posters, cartoons, interior design
Media – Oils, pastels, ink and pencil drawings, etchings
Artistic Focus – Randal Borough was a skilled artist and illustrator whose work as a magazine and poster artist captured the sunny exuberance of early 1900s California. He was also a noted portraitist, whose work in this genre was most appreciated later in his life, after his long and successful career in advertising art.
Career Highlights –
- Randal (sometimes spelled “Randall”) William Borough was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1878.
- By 1900 he was living in San Francisco and studying at the city’s Mark Hopkins Institute of Art.
- He also attended Stanford University, graduating with a degree in Drawing in 1904, and was staff illustrator for the San Francisco Call newspaper.
- Soon after the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906, Borough moved to Los Angeles and exhibited with the city’s Painters Club that same year.
- During his time in Los Angeles, Borough wrote about art for the Los Angeles Record, and became a successful illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, Sunset, Pacific Empire, and other magazines. Borough was to continue illustrating for Sunset magazine through the early 1900s.
- By 1909 Borough seems to have returned to San Francisco, and early that year it was announced that the city would have a grand celebration called the Portola Festival, to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the 1769 discovery of San Francisco Bay by Juan Gaspar de Portolá, who became California’s first governor.
- A competition was held to choose the design of the official Portola Festival poster using the likeness of Virgilia Bogue, who had been chosen the festival’s queen. The winner of the contest was Randal Borough, whose poster depicted a joyful, dancing Ms. Bogue among a shower of roses. The image was also used on a postcard for the festival.
- Also in 1909, Borough was included in the annual newspaper artists’ exhibition at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco; and in 1911 he designed a poster for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
- A member of San Francisco’s Bohemian Club, Borough exhibited under their auspices and participated in their stage productions, and in 1912 he was one of the interior designers for the San Francisco home of the Southern Club.
- In 1915 Borough married Florence Burns, the daughter of the famous private investigator William J. Burns, known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes.” By 1920, Borough and his family had relocated to New York City, where he worked as an advertising artist for the Thomas F. Logan agency (later Lord & Thomas and Logan).
- In 1939 Borough, who had continued to paint in his spare time, had his first New York exhibit, which included portraits of his wife and daughter. The success of this show led him to retire from advertising and concentrate on portraiture, moving to his home and studio in Orwell, Vermont in 1942.
- Borough exhibited with the Mid-Vermont Artists in 1945, and in 1946 his portrait of former Vermont Governor William H. Wills was placed in Vermont’s Capitol Building in Montpelier.
- Randal Borough passed away while vacationing in Sarasota, Florida in 1951.
Selection of Works by this Artist
Bibliographic references are available upon request.