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Constantin Alajálov (also Aladjalov) (18 November 1900 - 23 October 1987) was an American painter and illustrator. He was born in Rostov, Russia and immigrated to New York City in 1923, becoming a US citizen in 1928. Many of his illustrations were the covers for The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, and Fortune. He also illustrated many books, including the first edition of George Gershwin's Song Book. His works are in New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. He died in Amenia, New York.
Constantin Alajálov was born in Rostov, Russia in 1900 and died in New York in 1987. In 1916, the Red Revolution broke out, interrupting Alajálov's time at the University of Petrograd. Unable to stay, Alajálov joined a government organized group of artists. Traveling the countryside, they painted large propaganda murals and posters for the revolution. After this, Alajálov emigrated to Persia and again started painting for a revolution until no longer safe.
After his stay in Persia, Alajálov headed to Constantinople, his last stop before he emigrated to America at age 23. Getting a job was hard, but he finally landed one painting wall murals at a restaurant about to be opened by Russian Countess Anna Zarnekau. Within three years, Alajálov was selling his paintings to The New Yorker magazine, where his first cover appeared on September 25, 1926. He went on to create more than 70 covers for the magazine. He also designed rugs for New York artist and entrepreneur Ralph Pearson.
Alajálov's first cover for the Saturday Evening Post appeared on October 6, 1945 (unusual at the time as he was also doing covers for The New Yorker, and both required exclusivity of their artists). His final cover was for the December 1, 1962 issue. That final cover portrayed an accomplished bridge player awakened from a dream, still analyzing her bridge hand. Many of his Saturday Evening Post cover paintings can be viewed at The American Illustrators Hall of Fame in Indianapolis.
His papers are at Syracuse University, and the Archives of American Art. He bequeathed funding for a scholarship in his name to Boston University, which also maintains a collection of his photographs and scrapbooks. The Boston University holdings include a painting of Alajálov by George Gershwin.
- Tantivy Towers, by A. P. Herbert (1931)
- George Gershwin, a New York contemporary of Russian-Jewish heritage, chose him to do a set of edgy drawings illustrating each of the 18 songs in the first editions of George Gershwin's Song Book (1932)
- Dithers and Jitters, by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1938)
- Soap Behind the Ears, by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1941)
- Conversation Pieces (1942) was an autobiographical book of Alajálov's illustrations. Janet Flanner wrote the text and commentary of the book.
- Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, by Cornelia Otis Skinner & Emily Kimbrough (1942)
- Sophie Halenczik, American, by Rose C. Feld (1943)
- Cinderella, Retold in Verse, by Alice Duer Miller (1943)
- Married at Leisure, by Virginia Lederer (pseudonym of Virginia Pringle) (1944)
- Esme of Paris, by Esme Davis (1944)
- Outside Eden, by Isabel Scott Rorick (1945)
- Hold Your Man, by Veronica Dengel (1945)
- Timothy's Angels, by William Rose Benét (1947)
- Family Album, by Paul Chavchavadze (1949)
- Nuts in May, by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1950)
- Bottoms Up, by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1955)
- Aurora Dawn, by Herman Wouk (1956)
- The Island Players, by Ilka Chase (1956)
- Orpheus in America, Offenbach's Diary of his Journey in the New World, translated by Lander MacClintock (1957)
- The Ape in Me, by Cornelia Otis Skinner (1959)
- "Constantin Alajalov Is Dead; Was Painter and Illustrator". The New York Times. October 28, 1987.
- "Constantin Alajalov - Artist Biography". The Saturday Evening Post. Curtis Publishing. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Reed, Roger T. "Constantin Alajalov Biography". Illustration House.
- Denny, Diana (2011-12-30). "Classic Covers: Constantin Alajalov". The Saturday Evening Post. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "Constantin Alajalov Papers". Syracuse University Library. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
- "Constantin Alajalov papers, [ca. 1940-1979]". Archives of American Art. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
- "The Constantin Alajalov collection". Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "George Gershwin's song-book". Library of Congress. 1932. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
- Alajálov, Constantin (1942). Holme, Bryan, ed. Conversation Pieces. The Studio Publications Incorporated.