Delos Palmer, Jr. was born January 26, 1890 in New York City. His father was Dr. Delos Palmer, a socially prominent Park Avenue dentist. His mother was Jennifer Emma Banta. His parents were both born in NYC, where they married in 1880 and had five children. There had three sons and two daughters. He was the fourth born. They lived in a private townhouse at 48 West 50th Street, with a cook, a waitress, and a nurse to assist in his father's dental practice on the ground floor.
They lived a privileged life and the children all went to the best private schools. He graduated high school in June of 1908.
He studied at The Art Students League from 1911 to 1915 with the renowned American Impressionist, George Bellows. According to the artist, "Bellows was a good influence on me. He taught me how to paint what I see and what I feel!"
In 1916 Palmer moved to the historic Holbein Studios at 139 West 55th Street. He worked there until 1920, when he moved to the more fashionable Greenwich Village, where he became a successful society portraitist.
He was 27 years old during the Great War, so he was not selected for military service.
In 1923 Palmer began to sell interior story illustrations to Metropolitan Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and Liberty.
In 1924 he married Helen Smith Romme and moved to Stamford, CT, where they raised a daughter and two step-sons.
The fateful market crash of 1929 ended Palmer's high society portrait business, but he soon found work through his contacts at Liberty magazine's MacFadden Publishing, which also produced several crime and detective magazines such as Master Detective and True Detective.
He then began to paint pulp covers for Dime Mystery, Clues, Frontier Stories, Action Stories, Western Trails, All Star Adventure, Complete Western Book, Spicy Western, Terror Tales, and Horror Stories.
Most of his pulp covers are unsigned, but he was occasionally given printed credit for his cover paintings on the magazine contents page.
From 1935 to 1938 Palmer worked on several murals in Connecticut for the WPA Federal Arts Project.
By 1940, Palmer was again receiving regular portrait commissions from prominent citizens of Stamford, CT. At that same time he also began to teach private art classes in his picturesque studio, which was an old school house.
In 1945 he and his wife separated. Their children had already grown up and left home.
During the coldest months of each winter he would move to Florida to paint portrait commissions and stay warm. In 1948 he met Lona Aldrich, who returned and lived with him for the rest of his life.
His painting "Father Contos" won the portrait prize at the 1950 Annual Exhibition of the Hudson Valley Art Association.
In his final years, Delos Palmer specialized in portraits of children.
Delos Palmer suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep at the age of seventy on May 4th, 1960.
© David Saunders 2009