Earl MacPherson created this playfully erotic pin-up painting for a 1953 Shaw-Barton 12-page pin-up calendar. The artwork graced the month of June, with accompanying text reading; Kittenish Type – If I should lose my puddy-cat – And she should come to you, There’ll be a big reward in store If you’ll return her to… Miss Honey Bare Brown. The sketchbook style pin-up was invented by 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 or two full color central images, 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 and text were 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. This painting has been reworked to some degree by the artist as it remained in his collection until his death in 1993, there is one less kitty and one less handkerchief wrap covering the model on the left’s backside.
The painting is signed lower left, and has a hand written poem by the artist on the verso possibly submitted as an idea for the calendar quip to be used in publication? Painting is guaranteed to be the original Shaw-Barton published vintage Earl MacPherson pin-up painting, with a few artist made later alterations which was a common practice by MacPherson. Handsomely framed in a period wood frame and ready to enjoy.
A brief biography of Earl MacPherson courtesy of The Pin Up Files:
Earl MacPherson married his first model at Brown & Bigelow, then went on to create a unique pin-up calendar that would become a standard in the industry. First published in 1943, his Artist’s Sketch Pad became a million-dollar seller. Each page of the twelve-page calendar bound at the top with a spiral binder, featured a primary pin-up figure surrounded by pencil sketches showing the same model in various poses relating to the central image.
Before going to Brown & Bigelow, MacPherson had painted a very famous pin-up image for the Shaw-Barton Calendar Company. The best-selling image in the company’s 1941 line, Going Places was so popular that Lucky Strike cigarettes asked to reproduce it on their 1942 calendar with the caption “Lucky Strike Green Goes to War”.
Edgar Earl MacPherson was born on August 3, 1910, in Oklahoma. He moved to Los Angeles after high school, got a job painting movie posters for a downtown theatre, and took evening art classes at the Chouinard School of Art. In 1929, he set up shop at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, painting portraits of wealthy guests. McPherson’s smashing success with the Artist’s Sketch Pad was followed by another triumph: his two deck set of playing cards for Brown & Bigelow, called Win, Lose, or Draw, received a total of 168,000 orders in four months. His diary-style calendar, Something to Remember, was his last success before he went off to war in 1944.
Discharged in 1946, after teaching plane decoy recognition to Navy pilots, he settled on a four-acre ranch in Del Mar, California. He also hooked up once again with Shaw-Barton and began the first of nine consecutive years of MacPherson Sketch Book calendars for them. In 1954, Shaw-Barton published a book called Hunting With MacPherson, a parody with pin-up girls dressed as various hunting birds; the same year, the artist. wrote and designed a best-selling how-to book entitled Pin-Up Art for the Waiter Faster Company.
In 1951, MacPherson was stricken with polio, and his assistant, Jerry Thompson, took over the Sketch Book calendar series under the name T. N. Thompson. In the early 1950s, MacPherson had his own television show in Arizona; about 1960, he moved to Tahiti and then traveled widely in the South Pacific. He died in December 1993.