Jean Harlow, Earl Moran, and the Golden Age of Hollywood
This beguiling pastel on artist’s paper was created by artist and illustrator Earl Moran as cover art for one of the many countless movie magazine titles in circulation during the Golden Age of Hollywood. We are, at this time, unable to find a published example of this portrait.
This portrait of actress Jean Harlow has been signed by Moran in the bottom left corner. This pastel is beautifully framed and ready to display!
Jean Harlow: Hollywood’s Original Blonde Bombshell
One of the most popular actresses and sex symbols of the 1930s, Harlow was signed by director Howard Hughes and made her first major appearance in his film, “Hell’s Angels” (1930). Harlow soon became a leading lady for MGM, starring in a string of hits. Harlow’s popularity rivaled and soon surpassed that of her MGM colleagues Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer. She had become one of the biggest movie stars in the world by the late 1930s, often nicknamed the “Blonde Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde”; she was also popular for her “Laughing Vamp” movie persona. The American Film Institute ranked her as the 22nd greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema.
Hollywood Magazines of the 1930s
Movie magazines of the 1930s were a central part of the image making machine of Golden Age Hollywood. The beautiful illustrated covers which amplified the glamour of screen stars, were both part of the allure, and have stood the test of time since their initial creation.
At the moment this work dates to, Moran was living and working in New York, struggling to build a name for himself as an illustrator, and spending as many free moments as he could in the company of chorus girls and models. This pastel was likely created by Moran as a calling card of sorts to get cover work for one of the 1930s Hollywood Movie magazine titles, as it has all the hallmarks of the style favored by magazines like Photoplay and Movie Mirror.