A pristine and important surviving Henry Clive illustration painting that appeared as the cover for the July 16, 1933 edition of The American Weekly, a Randolph Hearst publication. The magazine often commissioned Clive to create serialized images of enchantresses that shared a thematic thread. In this case, exotic maidens in the crossfire of cupid’s bow. Our lovely Mandarin princess represented the epitome of Chinese beauty, and appeared as number six in the cupid series. The painting is lavishly framed and silk matted under glass and ready to enjoy. The work is one of three fresh-to-the-market illustrations by Henry Clive that had been in a California collection for decades. They were purchased by the previous owners at a charity based Los Angeles auction years ago and came from the estate of Marion Davies, the long time companion of American Weekly publisher Randolph Hearst. We recently sold this with the other two 1933 American Weekly Clive covers to a long time gallery client. When displayed as a trio he felt this one differed in coloring and aesthetic enough that he wanted to keep the other two and asked us to again offer this for sale at our gallery.
By the 1930s Clive was famous as the cover artist for William Randolph Hearst’s The American Weekly (Clive’s first cover for this publication was done in 1919, but his best known images date to the 30s and 40s). This Sunday newspaper supplement had a circulation of over 50,000,000 in its heyday and scintillated readers with tales of intrigue and chorus girl gossip. Though the somewhat lurid interior featured to-the-minute gossip and scandals that today seem like the stuff of legend, the art direction of The American Weekly holds up to the test of time and the artists employed to cover and illustrate the publication include some of the greats of the Golden Age of Illustration.
Australian-born artist Henry Clive (Henry Clive O’Hara) started out as a vaudevillian magician, became a silent film performer, and gained fame as an artist. His career as an illustrator began nearly by accident, when impresario Flo Ziegfeld discovered one of his sketches. Ziegfeld himself used Clive to illustrate risqué showgirl covers for his Ziegfeld Follies and Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic programs and passed his name and work around to art directors in New York and Los Angeles.
For over three decades Clive was the premiere cover artist for Randolph Hearst’s American Weekly. The artist was frequently asked to interpret current film stars, often evoking a familiar historical figure or sentiment, in serialized form often stretched over several months to link the weekly issues visually. Some of his more well-known (and extant) series include Visions of an Artist, Pin-Up Girls of History (Gene Tierney as Lola Montez, Dorothy Lamour as Cleopatra, Veronica Lake as Salome), Global Glamour, Heroines of the Opera (Acquanetta as Lakme, Linda Darnell as Carmen, Eleanor Parker as Lucia), A Girl in Every Port, Enchanters of Famous Men (Maria Montez as Marie Mancini), and Enchantresses of the Ages (Marion Davies as the Duchess of Devonshire, Beryl Wallace as Delilah, Joyce Reynolds as Bianca Capello). These covers were often backed by a short paragraph on the cover interior describing the lovely lady.
The partnership between Henry Clive and Randolph Hearst lasted for over three decades, a fruitful artistic and personal pairing. Clive knew both Hearst and his partner Marion Davies, and spent time at their home Heart Castle. A wonderful portrait of Davies graced the cover of the March 14, 1948 issue of The American Weekly, and she was the model for many of the force of nature images in his Vision of an Artist series.