A tremendous example of a Brown & Bigelow published pin-up painting by Ted Withers used in a Roman themed sketchbook calendar titled; Bella Roma – In The Artist’s Sketchbook. This painting, which appeared as the October 1960 calendar page, features Pax, the Roman goddess of peace and prosperity (and counterpart to the Greek goddess Eirene) being visited by a dove, the traditional symbol of her virtues. The sketchbook style pin-up was invented by Earl MacPherson and adopted by a number of artists, including Joyce Ballantyne, T.N. Thompson, Fritz Willis, K.O. Munson, Freeman Elliot and Ted Withers. In a typical sketchbook pin-up, one full color central image, executed in oil or pastel would appear surrounded by other smaller line drawings that hinted at the artist’s process. Quite often, as in this case, the painting would be created on its own, and the sketches drawn on a separate clear transparency sheet, which would be overlaid on the painting for reproduction use, creating the final calendar page. The overlays were typically discarded after print usage.
The text on the cover of the Brown & Bigelow calendar tells of Wither’s travels to Rome to learn of the countries rich historical traditions, though it is unlikely he ever set foot there, at least not on the calendar giants dime. The fanciful verse makes for an interesting read, and our girl here is described as a “cunning jade whose aggression is disguised as generosity and submission.” Painting is in pristine condition; silk-matted and handsomely framed in a period ornate gold wood frame.