A large and beautiful original pastel by Rolf Armstrong that first appeared as a pin up calendar for The Thos. D. Murphy Calendar Company under the title “Orchids To You.” Armstrong only created eight artworks for the Iowa based company, and as he was already America’s premiere glamour illustrator when he began working with them, he was permitted to retain ownership of his original pastels. He often reworked these slightly for use as covers for College Humor magazine, during the tail end of his ten year association with the periodical. Staying just outside copyright infringement by removing the orchids from the model’s left hand, and placing a “New York” and “C” for copyright under his distinctive signature, this altered version appeared on the cover of College Humor in March of 1936, the last time an Armstrong girl would grace this title.
In the mid 1930’s Armstrong grew tired of the calendar industry and the tight deadlines and headed to Hollywood to start a short lived print and photograph art service titled “Armstrong Art Services” where his hope was to offer print and photograph images of his pastel works directly to mail order clients. This pastel as reworked by Armstrong appears in a rare brochure advertising this misadventure under the title “Flower of the South” as seen below that we will include in the sale. This venture was a misstep commercially but this era and these pastels captured “The Armstrong Girl” at her absolute apex.
From the son of a small town tugboat captain to the Father of American Pin-Up Art, Rolf Armstrong led a full life and had a long and prolific career.
Armstrong started his education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where his teachers increasingly recognized his work. The institute was a stepping-stone to Armstrong’s successful career in commercial art.