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carole lombard 05

When Photoplay celebrated eight months of Flagg day

Posted by vp19 on 2018.08.03 at 12:07
Current mood: artisticartistic

Carole Lombard posed for many artists' illustrations during her brief life, but I'm guessing the drawing above held special significance for her. Not merely because of its rendering -- attractive, subtle, understated -- but because it was done by the man who drew this:

The "I Want You" Uncle Sam recruiting poster from 1917 is among the most iconic illustrations in history, so much a part of American culture that it would be parodied for generations. It, and other works, made its creator a household name...

...James Montgomery Flagg, shown in a portrait from 1915, when he was already well-known..

Flagg and Norman Rockwell of Saturday Evening Post fame were probably the two best-known U.S. illustrators in the first half of the 20th century. But while Rockwell's specialty was purebred Americana, such as this famed "Freedom From Want"...

...Flagg was a bit more worldly and diverse, especially concerning women. More on that later.

Born in 1877, Flagg's work ran in magazines as early as the start of the 1890s. It spanned advertising, magazine covers, books and cartoons on various topics. He created this ad for Cream of Wheat in 1908, with the company's symbol, black cook Rastus, in the background:

Here are three of his other World War I posters, first for the Navy...

...another to promote "victory gardens"...

...and one warning citizens about complacency:

The growth of movies and its associated culture gave Flagg more opportunities, witness this portrait of '20s flapper star Colleen Moore. (A miniature version of this can be seen in Moore's famed elaborate dollhouse.)

In mid-1936, Photoplay commissioned Flagg to draw a series of charcoal portraits of the day's leading female film stars. He was no stranger to the magazine, having drawn for them as far back as 1923, when he illustrated this piece of fiction:

The series began with Claudette Colbert in July 1936.

Bette Davis followed in August.

Katharine Hepburn was September's subject.

(Oh, the last word in that Gable headline is "Plight.")

On the cover in October was Norma Shearer (sorry it's obscured by a mailing sticker).

Carole graced the cover that November:

Shirley Temple closed out the year.

Ginger Rogers began the portraiture for 1937 in January.

Joan Crawford closed the series in February.

Jean Harlow wasn't part of the series, but Flagg did a fine rendering of her:

Flagg did portraits of male stars, too, such as W.C. Fields...

...Mickey Rooney...

...Errol Flynn as Gen. Custer...

...and Victor Mature in 1951, nine years before Flagg's death:

And Flagg drew 20-year-old Jane Russell in September 1941:

So one can understand the enthusiasm Lombard, Russell and other notables had about being drawn by Flagg. His work symbolized America.

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