Do you have a favorite style of Bolles girl? On display today are three prime examples spanning 13 years, all in the same pose and predicament. On our immediate left is a put out but still fabulous flapper from a 1924 issue of Film Fun, below we see a perky but slightly pettish officer sporting a decidedly modern interpretation of a sailor suit, who appeared on a 1931 cover of Spicy Stories, and the vamp in the body stocking from a 1937 issue (fantastic cleanup courtesy of TJ)....
Each epitomizes the Bolles style of the era though it must be said that the Film Fun girl is a lot more curvy than the John Held Jr. body type Bolles appeared to be emulating a year later. The 1931 Spicy girl comes right in the midst of a two year period when Bolles was either undersizing the body or oversizing the head on his girls, or both. And the 1937 example shows him Bolles in the apotheosis of all his mannerisms. Notice how she has not a hint of concern about the growing fissure between her seams. The concern (anticipation?) of her audience, well that's another matter. It's only too bad there isn't a version of this pose from the 1910's when Bolles was working for Judge, otherwise we could add an Edwardian version for yet another comparison.
These examples highlight one of the things I like best about Bolles, namely how he stayed true to his core. There are stylistic references in his earliest published work that run throughout his entire career, but at the same time he adapted his style for the both the fashion and the figure of the times. The other thing evident in these comparisons is that his style did evolve over the decades; the relaxed yet precise brushwork during the 1920s was gone by the early 1930s, supplanted by canvases so smooth they sometimes appears airbrushed. It's also interesting to compare the treatment the girls hands, and if you've been reading this blog you already know that Bolles was close to obsessed about how hands looked. From these examples it is clear he put a lot of thought into them. He also certainly was aware of that he was revisiting the same pose and made some efforts to avoid merely resuscitating the same stance and look. What's curious to me is how he remembered all this. He painted at least a hundred magazine covers between each of of these and so one might suppose there was something special about the initial pose (and I'm in agreement here) that made him come back to it. I do know he saved at least some of his proofs so he did have reference materials.
There are yet more examples of revisited themes, outfits and poses and I'll be sharing these in future posts.