Norman Mills Price was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He was a powerful illustrator with all the educational trappings of a delicate and disciplined Royal Academician. He studied first at the Ontario School of Art and in 1901 traveled to London to study at the Goldsmith’s Institute, the Westminster School of Art, and then with George Cruickshank. After all this schooling, Price founded the Carlton Studios in London, but left England shortly thereafter. In Paris, he studied even further at the venerable Academie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant and Richard Miller.
By 1912, Price returned to North America and moved immediately to New York City establishing himself there as a professional illustrator. He was almost instantly successful for his well-researched images with authentic costumes and accuracy in all aspects of his portrayals. Magazine editors and their readership alike enjoyed looking at the details of his illustrations. It caused them to wonder at the respective illustrators proficiency and knowledge and if it was substantial, it added credibility to the periodical itself. Norman Price was not a dilettante, but rather a stickler for detail, and thus very popular with readers and publishers alike.
Price’s favorite subjects were the characters of the great classic novels and anything which required the need for historical research prior to creating illustrations. Perhaps his best-known images are those in Shakespearean books and the historical novels of Robert W. Chambers and Frederick Arnold Kummer. Some of the historical authors with whom he worked closely included May C. Byron, Dorothea F. Fisher, George Sampson, Flora Warren Seymour, and Rebecca West. His magazine illustrations were published by American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, St. Nicholas, and Women’s Home Companion. Price’s strong and authentic-looking images were most frequently used on covers. He truly understood the difference between cover and interior images.
Norman Price was a relatively unsung illustrator whose talents exceeded his fame. This was unfortunately probably due to his meticulous research, which enveloped him even more than creating the artwork itself. This compulsion and drive was at once an asset, and also ultimately, a debit.