Thursday, 19 March 2009

Pin-up Venus: 1 Red, White and Blue by David Wright

Red, white and blue by David Wright

About eight months ago we were in John Lewis in Oxford Street when we were very taken by a set of mugs depicting pin-up girls from the nineteen forties. We bought the one featuring this painting: Red, white and blue (1945) which originally appeared in The Sketch magazine.

These pictures were the work of British pin-up artist David Wright (1912-1967). Both Wright's parents were artists and the father believed himself to have been descended from Joseph Wright of Derby. Wright's uncle was an artist too and it was with him that David first started work. He began as an illustrator for fashion magazines but his talent for drawing beautiful women atracted the interest of The Sketch magaazine who, in 1941, commissioned him to do a series of pin-up pictures known as "lovelies". The Sketch was an illustrated newspaper published by the Illustrated London News company which featured society and royal news, short stories (Agatha Christie was first published in The Sketch) and features on the theatre, cinema and art. It ran from 1893 until 1959. Wright continued to provide his "lovelies" for ten years eventually completing 169 paintings for the magazine.

Illustration March 1952 Men Only

He also did a series of slightly racier pictures for Men Only in the fifties.

During World War 2, at a time when the great pin-up artists were all based in America, he established himself as one of the most popular in the world. During the War he served as an armed forces driving instructor in Wales as the army realised that he could contribute much more to the war effort by painting pin-ups than by going into combat. His pictures adorned barrack room walls up and down the country and it would be fair to say that he was the British equivalent of Vargas.

Wright often used his wife, Esme, as a model and had a more painterly style than many of his contemporaries (including Vargas) who were using the new airbrushes.

Jo (or Jose in this French Canadian version)

Later in the fifties he created a number of comic strips: Kit Carson (1952), Judy (1953) and Jo (1955). His most famous strip was Carol Day, about a model, which ran in the Daily Mail from 1956 until 1967.

Carol Day

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