Covers of the Week #19: Elaine Duillo Cover Artist

Legendary romance cover artist Elaine Duillo passed away in June. We celebrate her life and career byt spotlighting her beautiful illustrations for some beloved books.

elaine duillo cover artist

Artist: Elaine Duillo

The Queen of Historical Romance Covers

Elaine Duillo was the undisputed “Queen of Historical Romance” cover artist. She was a major force in the competitive field of pulp fiction artwork, where women were few and far between. Duillo painted hundreds of book covers and was an inductee of the prestigious Illustrators Hall of fame.

All that, plus Duillo was the matriarch of a talented artistic family.

Sadly, she passed away on July 30, 2021, at 93.

This amazing artist influenced generations of illustrators and revolutionized romance cover art. She helped give rise to the pop culture phenom Fabio. One of the covers I chose, Defy Not the Heart, features Fabio and was a favorite of Elaine’s. It is also my all-time favorite cover.

Although she created many gorgeous stepbacks, or “tip-ins,” as those in the industry called them, Duillo was not a fan. She believed the eye-catching covers she designed were meant to be seen, not hidden away. Yes, to that, I say. Display those gorgeous illustrations displayed proudly!

Sweet Savage Flame Remembers Elaine

Sweet Savage Flame laments her passing. Our thoughts and sympathy are with her family. We celebrate Elaine Duillo’s life as she brought much joy and beauty to countless tens of millions of readers worldwide.

Her legacy lives on through her stunning cover art, which will continue to inspire and captivate future generations. Thank you, Elaine, for your incredible contributions to the world of romance novels and cover art. Rest in peace.

The Covers by Elaine Duillo

Here is a small sampling of my favorite romance covers painted by the late, great Elaine Duillo for this week of Monday, August 16 – Sunday, August 22, 2021.

The Covers

  • Golden Roses, Patricia Hagan, Avon, 1983
  • Defy Not the Heart, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1989
  • Damsel in Distress, Shannon Drake, Avon, 1992 (outer cover)
  • Rainbow’s End, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner Books, 1991.

This Side of Heaven
This Side of Heaven, Katherine Robards, Dell, 1991, (Interior stepback)

Your Opinion

What are your favorite Elaine Duillo covers? What do you think of this week’s tribute? Do any of the covers stand out to you as a favorite?

Do you have a recommendation for a future Covers of the Week theme? Let us know, and we’ll try it out.

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

5 thoughts on “Covers of the Week #19: Elaine Duillo Cover Artist

    1. jacquelinediaz

      Although there are some very talented cover artists today, I am an old-school girl at heart, and will always prefer painted covers to digital images. One of my favorite cover artists who successfully transitioned from painted to digital is Victor Gadino. His style is unique but you can see the Duillo influence. I instantly recognize his artwork by his emphasis on musculature and fine attention to detail, especially in the fabrics. We have a page dedicated to his art, and I also highlighted his work in a blog post a while back.

      Duillo’s daughter Melissa was almost a match for her mother, but she left the field of book illustrations for fine art and portraits.

  1. jacquelinediaz

    Elaine Duillo eye-catching covers drew me to romance like no other. I’ll never forget when i first saw Johanna Lindsey’s Warrior’s Woman. That cover dazzled; it was pure eye-candy!

    You’re so fortunate to have met with Elaine. She must have had great stories to tell! The closest I’ve gotten to her in reading an article from Illustration magazine. One thing I learned is that she hated stepbacks. She was proud of her work and enjoyed showing it off!

  2. annabowling

    Truly THE standard setter for historical romance illustration. I had the great pleasure of speaking with her on a few occasions, and oh the stories she had to tell. Her talent is beyond compare.

    1. Introvert Reader

      You’re so fortunate to have gotten to speak with the “Queen” herself! The closest I’ve gotten to her is reading a long article in Illustration magazine, which has been a valuable source of information. There really was no one like her in romance. Well, except for her daughter Melissa, who lamentably has left the field. Although now she’d doing what she loves and is passionate about: fine art and portraits.


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