Seen gamely climbing into a larger than life pipe threader in ballet slippers and skimpy pink apron, this redheaded Petty girl is an unlikely yet alluring gearhead. A published mixed media pin-up illustration by George Petty which appeared as a calendar for Ridgid Tools in September of 1952, as part of his long running series of commissions for the company. Petty was one of the top pin-up illustrators of the 1930s and 1940s, beginning his career with a series of cartoons which graced the pages of Esquire Magazine, pairing snappy beautiful jazz-age pin-up girls and their far from handsome beaus. His work coined the term “Petty Girl” to describe the carefully airbrushed girls with brilliant smiles, sexy poses and clever pre-code quips. When, in the late 1930s, Esquire refused to renegotiate the artist’s contract despite the runaway popularity of the Petty Girl, he left the magazine to become a freelance commercial artist, and Esquire in turn, introduced the country to Alberto Vargas. In the post-Esquire period, Petty Girls were seen gracing magazine ads and calendars for Old Gold Cigarettes, Jantzen swimwear, and even such unlikely products as Tung-Sol Radio Tubes and the aptly named Ridgid Tools.
This is essentially a collage – the central Petty Girl figure is an airbrush artwork created by the artist then precicely and precariously perched by Petty over a photostat of a piece of machinery – the “New No. 4P Heavy Duty Geared Pipe Threader” specifically. This sort of mixed-media approach to advertising art was cutting edge in 1952 (much like the Ridgid Tool being advertised) and this original illustration artwork showcases an inventive combination of design and artistry.
Work is in a very fine state of original conservation and handsomely matted and framed behind glass.