A recently discovered radiant c.1934 pastel portrait by Rolf Armstrong of the beautiful and glamorous and tragically short lived Hollywood film legend Carole Lombard. This work was never published, it was likely proposed as a cover for Modern Screen magazine. During the late 1920s/early 1930s Armstrong created covers for numerous movie magazines such as Photoplay, Screenland and The New Movie Magazine but by the mid-1930s had limited his work to just Modern Screen. For the title he created portraits of Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow that all feature the cross-hatch highlighting on display in this image of Lombard. This was a popular style in movie magazine cover art in the 1930s, but the work Armstrong did for Modern Screen appears to be his only experiment with it. It is unclear why this dramatic, finished example never came to publication, but the period in which Armstrong executed it marks the end of his time creating magazine work.
This luminous and large pastel on illustration board, is handsomely matted and framed behind glass, a fresh never before on the market rare and important offering.
Today Rolf Armstrong is best known for his pin up work with The Brown & Bigelow Calendar Company, the artist also enjoyed a prolific and highly regarded career as a magazine cover artist during the silent film and early talkie days of tinsel-town Hollywood, creating stylish and dramatic portraits of the era’s leading female stars. Some of his most famous celebrity magazine cover portraiture features Nita Naldi, Pola Negri, Marion Davies and Constance Bennett.
Carole Lombard became a near overnight sensation in the depression ravaged 1930s. Her screwball comedies offered solace to down-on-their-luck theatergoers, and her sophisticated beauty made her unmatched talent for slapstick humor all the more unexpected. Married to Clark Gable, she became a symbol of resilience during the war years, tirelessly engaging in USO work until her life was cut short in a tragic plane crash in 1942.