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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Elvgrens Creative Vision

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Partial Coverage"

During a career that spanned nearly forty years, Gil Elvgren never lost sight of what appealed to the American male. His heroines are often caught in humorous but distressing situations that cause their skirts to rise and our eyes to follow. 

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "A Near Miss"

His criteria for his models was a "fifteen year old face on a twenty year old body." Many of his models, like Myrna Hansen - who was Miss USA 1953, Myrna Loy, Donna Reed, Arlene Dahl, Barbara Hale, and Kim Novak, went on to have successful film careers after posing for him. These actresses, just beginning their careers, would travel to the offices of the nation's most successful calendar company, Brown & Bigelow, to be immortalized by the pin-up artists.

Elvgren - Model: Myrna Hansen "Up And Cunning"

Elvgren chose models with particular features and would add embellishments by building up the bust, or lengthening the legs, making the mouth fuller, or the eyes larger. Most of all, however, his models had to be enthusiastic and interesting, and be capable of a wide range of facial expressions.

Elvgren - model: ? "Claws for Alarm"

One of his favorite models was his next door neighbor, Janet Rae. She had a spirit that captivated him and she knew how to give him that perfect pose. Elvgren gave her all of the photos and negatives from her more than 75 photo shoots. They are in her son's possession today and he has plans of publishing them in a book.

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Ditzler Advertisement"

To see more of Elvgren's finished works check out the book called Gil Elvgren: The Complete Pin-Ups, written by Charles G. Martignette and Louis K. Meisel. It contains 98% of his more than 500 paintings created between the mid-1930s and 1972.

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Puppy Love"

Elvgren was an avid photographer and shot his own model setups. There are several sources online where you can see his photos, such as these, and compare his finished works to the original reference.  Its a great way to see what he added or what he simplified, in order to create his beauties.

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Cooling Off"

If you would like to learn more, here are two great online sources for information - Elvgren Pinup, and Gil Elvgren. The latter site, which is operated by Louis K. Meisel, contains a very informative biography along with a title listing of his works. 

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "The Right Scale"

Elvgren's work is some of my all time favorite and I hope you have enjoyed seeing his originals become his creative vision as much as I have. Here are a few more comparisons for your enjoyment.

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Fit To Kill"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "A Warm Welcome "

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Ruffled Feathers"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "All Yours"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Have A Heart?"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "With The Greatest of Ease"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Well Built"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "More Than Enough"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Wanted"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Taking A Chance"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Screen Test"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Sheer Comfort"

Elvgren - model: Janet Rae "Appreciative Audience "


  1. Oooooh, I just love this post! I've seen a number of these vintage model + finished pinup painting sets before, but others are new, and I've certainly not encountered so many at one time before.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks Jessica. Elvgren is one of my favorites and I've been storing pics in a file on my computer for years.

  2. Wow! What an awesome collection of original pictures & what they became! I just stumbled onto your blog & am in love with it! I'm adding you to my favorite reads!


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