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David Donner Grove,
Feb. 27, 1940 - Oct. 25, 2012
Passed away at his home in San Francisco after a courageous struggle with a long illness.
Born in Washington D.C. to Jean Donner Grove and Edward Ryneal Grove. David's mother and father were both artists. Jean, a sculptor and Edward, a noted painter, medalic sculptor and one of America's finest intaglio engravers of portraits for the world's stamps, currency and stock certificates.
David won his first award for art before the age of 7. The family moved near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1947 where, as a youth, he attended art classes at Philadelphia Museum of Art. He put himself through Syracuse University on scholarship where he switched from Industrial Design to study Advertising Design with M. Peter Piening and credited John Vargo with first exposing him to illustration.
After graduation, David worked for a time as a photographer, before, restless, he moved to Paris in 1964. There, he began his career as an illustrator, at first as a necessity to support his other passion: playing jazz piano in smoky Left Bank clubs. After five years in Paris and a short stay in London, in 1969 he moved back to the U.S. and to North Beach in San Francisco, where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life.
For over thirty years, David was one of the most influential and respected illustrators in the world. His paintings have been exhibited here and abroad, from Tokyo to South Africa and Europe. His absolute and unwavering attention to detail, authenticity, and accuracy-combined with his unique fluid painting style-led to a client list that expanded to include not only every major publisher, but also advertising clients like Pendleton, Eddie Bauer, Mercedes Benz, Sony and Deutsche Bank. His illustrations adorn the spy novels of John Le Carre and other well-known authors and he created movie posters for clients including Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, MGM/UA, Orion and Fox.
When he was not hard at work, you might encounter David at one of his favorite North Beach cafes. The gatherings over the years at his Edwardian-style studio home were magical, and those who attended will never forget them, as they went long into the night, often lasting until dawn.
David was recently inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, the highest honor for an illustrator, alongside iconic artists such as N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell. This summer, a one man retrospective of his work was mounted at the Museum of American Illustration in New York. The past year also saw the publication of his monograph and memoir, "David Grove-An Illustrated Life" published by Norfolk Press of San Francisco.
David is survived by Heather Elmer, his loving companion of 25 years; his brother, filmmaker Eric Donner Grove of Hampton VA; his uncle, Dr. Paul Gartrell Donner of Simpsonville, SC and many cousins and friends who loved him dearly.
A celebration of David's' life and work will be held at Café Divine, 1600 Stockton Street, San Francisco CA on November 30, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, or to the
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 4, 2012