Friday, June 18, 2010

A Bolles Out of the Blue!

Do you feel this way? Does your heart start thumping when you read a story about someone uncovering a trove of old nitrite silent films in an attic, or discovering a new species of butterfly in the rain forest? To me these sorts of events are antidotes to the feeling that there truly is nothing new under the sun. Every now and again something unexpected turns up that surprises us and renews our curiosity. Well today's post is one of these events. It's been quite a stretch since the last time I've come across what for me is a "new" Bolles cover, and longer yet when his work pops up on a magazine I'd not expected him to have any connection to.

But here's a Bolles cover to Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, a sort of precursor to Time and Life (the 1930's iteration). It was part of the Leslie-Judge publishing company but I had never considered that Bolles would have done any covers for it. There's more, this issue appeared in 1914, and unless I'm missing other examples it is only the third magazine cover illustration magazine cover Bolles had done at that point. The cover was printed in only two or three colors, was intended to be photo-real. It's an incredible departure for Bolles, both in the topic and style in which it was done. I ran across it totally by accident, Bolles name was misspelled in the cover credit as Enoch Bowles. If perhaps you aren't yet convinced it is our Bolles and I can understand that given how different it looks, check out the EB initials in lower left corner. They are composed in exactly the style Bolles so often used in the mid-1920s. So let's hope there are more of these Bolles out of the blue show up, sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out of Uniform

I've been lagging on my promise to post some additional Bolles covers featuring more imaginative interpretations of sailor suits and so here they are. Working through Bolles' oeuvre you'll find a fair number of examples of sailors and other nautical themes. Bolles himself did some sailing and one of his earliest jobs was at the Philadelphia shipyards where he did illustrations of ships. In fact, one of the earliest surviving examples of his work is of a sailing ship. Bolles even built a boat in which he piloted his family down the Hackensack river.

What is most special about these two covers is the display of Bolles at his best fashion sense. I will admit to some lack of objectivity in asserting that Bolles may have been the first true pinup artist, but I will defend to the end my contention that he far and away had the best fashion sense of any pinup artist, good-girl artist, or whatever label suits your fancy. Bolles knew his stuff and he honed his skills and fashion sensibilities producing illustrations of clothes for both women and men. We'll take a closer look at Bolles' little known career in fashion illustration in an upcoming post.