Titled at turns “Flower Girl” and “Message of Love,” this original oil on canvas by Edward D’Ancona was created for the John Frederick Calendar Company. Featuring an elegant and wholesome depiction of the good girl glamour art ideal, this marks a winsome departure by the prolific and infamous creator of the panties dropping, embarrassment style of cheesecake that signaled the wane of the era of “The Great American Pin-up.” A vintage calendar print of “Message of Love” is included in the sale.
Although Edward D’Ancona was a prolific pin-up artist who produced hundreds of enjoyable images, almost nothing is known about his background. He sometimes signed his paintings with the name “D’Amarie.”
The first company to publish D’Ancona pin ups, about 1935 to 1937, was Louis F. Dow in St Paul. D’Ancona worked in oil on canvas and his originals from that time usually measured about 30 x 22 inches. His early work is comparable in quality to that of the young Gil Elvgren, who had begun to work for Dow in 1937. Because D’Ancona produced so much work for Dow, one might assume that he was born in Minnesota and lived and worked in the St Paul, Minneapolis area. He also completed commissioned works for the Thos. D. Murphy Calendar Company and to several soft-drink firms, which capitalized on his works similarity to the Sundblom/Elvgren style, which was so identified with Coca-Cola. During the 1940s and 1950s, D’Ancona’s superb use of primary colors, masterful brushstrokes, and painterly style elevated him to the ranks of the very best artist in pin up and glamour art. His subject matter at this time resembled Elvgren’s. Both enjoyed painting nudes and both employed situation poses a great deal. D’Ancona also painted a fair amount of evening-gown scenes, as did Elvgren, Frahm, and Erbit.
By 1960, D’Ancona had moved into the calendar art field. Instead of doing pin-ups and glamour images, however, he specialized in pictures on the theme of safety in which wholesome policemen helped children across the street in suburban settings that came straight out of Norman Rockwell’s vision of Americana.