The Book of Ovid

Artist:Gaspano "Gus" Ricca
Date:c. 1930
Medium:Oil on gesso panel canvas board
Dimensions:Sight Size: 18" x 14"
Condition:Excellent recently cleaned with minimal restoration
Original Use:As of yet unidentified
Price: SOLD

Full view

The artist's signature, lower right

With irreverent humor, this original oil-on-board painting shows a horned satyr smoking a pipe distracted from his reading by a nude figure in the foreground.  Dating to 1929-1930, when Ovid's Ars amatoria was in the news quite a bit, with the city of San Francisco's ban of the Ars amatoria in 1929 and its legalization for import and ownership in 1930.  The gag her appears to be in the "Anything Goes" libertine culture of the Jazz Age, banning a book for erotic content seems to be missing the point. This has playful art deco style, this was created by the New York based illustrator Gaspino Ricca, who used the name "Gus" Ricca and made a name for him self during the Golden age of Comics.  We have yet to locate the exact usage of this compelling, whimsical piece.  The artist contributed several covers for Liberty and Collier's  during the 1930s and created much interior work for The New Yorker and Esquire among other magazines.


Verso notations and labels

A Biography of the Artist - Courtesy of David Saunders:

Gaspano "Gus" Ignazio Ricca was born February 22, 1906 in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Ignazio Ricca, was born in 1860 in Santa Margherita Belice, Italy and came to America in 1888. His mother, Julia Brown, was born in 1876 in NYC of Italian and Irish ancestry. His parents married on August 23, 1895 in NYC, and had one child. The family lived at 245 Steuben Street in Brooklyn. The father was a classically-trained artist with a studio at 236 Court Street in Brooklyn.

In 1918, during the Great War, Gaspano Ricca was a twelve-year-old student in the seventh grade, and was not eligible to register for military service.

In June of 1919 Gaspano Ricca completed the eight grade, after which he entered the work force. He worked at a printing shop that created graphic material for newspaper advertising.

In 1928 Gaspano Ricca drew gag cartoons for The New Yorker magazine.

In 1929 he began to draw illustrations for Radio Revue Magazine.

In 1931 the Century Publishing Company produced "Grim Jim" by Talbot Mundy with a dust jacket designed by Gaspano Ricca.

In 1931 he drew illustrations of notable radio personalities for nationally syndicated newspapers.

In 1934 he drew portraits of newsworthy people for Time Magazine.

In 1933 Gaspano Ricca drew covers and story illustrations for Liberty Magazine.

In 1934 he illustrated Esquire Magazine.

In 1935 he created a cover and story illustrations for Collier's Magazine.

In 1939 Gaspano Ricca joined with Billie Gould and Dorothy Haubert to form Gould, Ricca & Haubert Advertising Agency at 45 West 45th Street.

In 1940 Gaspano Ricca joined the staff of the Harry A. Chesler comic shop, which produced contents for comic books published by Martin Goodman, Street & Smith, and Fawcett Publications.

In 1944 Gaspano Ricca became the art director of Harry A. Chesler's Dynamic Comics, for which he drew several memorable cover illustrations.

In 1945 he was listed as Vice President of Billie Gould, Incorporated, public relations firm at 55 West 42nd Street.

In 1945 Gaspano Ricca drew gag cartoons for Stag Magazine, which was published by Martin Goodman (1908-1992).

In 1948 Gaspano Ricca joined the staff of The New York Star newspaper, where the Art Director was Walt Kelly (1913-1973).

In 1952 Gaspano Ricca drew horror and crime comic books that were produced by St. John Publishing and also the American Comics Group.

After 1953 the comic book industry suffered lower sales, as readers became fascinated with television shows. Publishers were also attacked for producing uncensored comic books, which were widely believed to promote juvenile delinquency. This fear was further inflamed by opportunistic politicians.

By 1954 most artists that had worked for comic books and pulps had to look for other sources of income. Gaspano Ricca continued to sell gag cartoons to men's adventure magazines and worked as a free-lance artist for newspaper advertising.

Gaspano "Gus" Ignazio Ricca died at age fifty in NYC on April 27, 1956.

Verso view



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