A whimsical art deco original gouache painting titled “La Coquette” by Alberto Vargas. An early work by the Peruvian born pin up legend exploring the Commedia dell’arte revival that took hold around 1915, the cast of characters in this boldly colored and delightful Edwardian scene features the requisite maiden courted by a Harlequin with slapstick at his side as her guardian looks on in horror. Vargas brings a unique spin to this popular genre and his artistic mastery is apparent even at this early date.
This was acquired by Charles Martignette in 1989 from the Vargas estate – the painting is accompanied by a series of Kodak color photographs (dated June 1989) taken by Martignette of this painting at the time of acquisition, also included are several color photographs of the artist and Martignette taken shortly before Vargas’ death in 1982.
Before becoming a household name with his wildly popular “Varga Girl” pin up gatefolds for Esquire Magazine starting in 1941, Vargas created sensuous portraits of Ziegfeld Follies showgirls, worked in the art department for Paramount Films and created a few spectacular covers for The American Weekly and The Theater magazines.
This is an important and historic early offering with the added provenance of having been in the fabled Charles Martignette estate, the sadly departed author, historian and collector of vintage pin-up. Boston native Charles Martignette coaxed Vargas out of retirement in 1979 and had the artist do the cover art for fellow Bostonian’s The Cars album Candy O, introducing the artist to a new generation of fans.