Legendary American pin-up illustrator Earl Moran was one of the first to discover a muse in the iconic Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe. During the late 1940s Monroe famously worked as a model for the Blue Book Model agency, posing under her real name of Norma Jeane Dougherty. During her short period sitting for photographers and artists, she became Moran’s favorite model. For Brown & Bigelow, he created a series of the then red-headed beauty in situational poses for calendars and advertising use. A pictorial of this collaboration appears in the July 2008 issue of Playboy Magazine referenced below in photos.
After Moran transitioned away from the hectic schedules and deadlines of an in demand calendar artist to focus on his fine art painting, he revisited Marilyn, who was by then a platinum blonde Hollywood bombshell. In 1960, he exhibited a series of four fine art portraits of his internationally famous discovery which were offered for sale to patrons of the arts through an arrangement with The Aaron Brothers Galleries, Laguna Beach CA. This rare and historic original painting has not been publicly offered since that time.
Perhaps little can be said that’s new about Marilyn Monroe all these years after her all-too-brief life. Still, it seems that she continues to captivate in unexpected and changing ways even 50 years after her death. This work is one example of Marilyn’s power to become a fixture in the imagination of all those who met her in person or saw her on screen. Moran’s keen eye was able to capture as much of Monroe’s spirit in 1960 as he was when she sat for him as a five dollar a day pin-up model before her meteoric rise to fame. In this oil-on-masonite original painting, the icon is captured in a disheveled, dramatically sexual and radiant classical boudoir pose. The haunted yet erotic view foreshadows the later Bert Stern photographs taken just weeks before her death.
The artwork was originally purchased from the Aaron Brothers gallery and has remained in the family of the original owner since its purchase, and presents a rare opportunity to purchase a fresh to the market original Marilyn Monroe painting by Earl Moran.
As the recent commemoration of Marilyn’s death a half century ago demonstrates, the actress has only become more famous and iconic posthumously than she ever was before her overdose on August 5th, 1962, while at work on the never released film “Something’s Got To Give.” Auction records for Moran pieces featuring Marilyn continue to set new high-water marks, and interest in the pairing shows no sign of waning.
By the time Moran embarked on this series of fine art oils, Hollywood’s reigning “platinum bombshell” had shed whatever wholesomeness existed in his earlier depictions, but her legendary allure had only grown.