Prize Winner

Artist:Billy DeVorss
Medium:Pastel on Illustration Board
Dimensions:Sight size 26 1/2" x 38 1/2" Framed 31" x 43"
Original Use:Calendar Art
Price: S O L D
Above: Full view of pastel on illustration board
Above: The artist's signature

An alarmingly beautiful art deco era original pastel pin up illustration by Billy DeVorss titled "Prize Winner." A ravishing and radiant blond bathing beauty contestant winner in her slinky and current one piece suit and beach cape.

Above: Detail
Above: Detail

One of the artist's most successful and enduring creations, was also titled "Soft Shoulders - Dangerous Curves." In original limed wood frame behind glass with a framing label from "M.Goldberg picture frames, 323 W. 45th St. N.Y." A rare surviving radiant work from DeVorss' most productive period, when his penthouse studio was in New York City's prestigious Beaux Arts Building.

Above: Calendar company notations and title on verso
Above: Verso view
Above: Framing label
Above: Framed and lined behind glass in original wood frame

Alone among the pin up artists in being entirely self-taught, Billy DeVorss sold his first three published pin ups to the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company in St. Paul about 1933. Until that time, he had been working as a teller in a bank in St. Joseph, Missouri. There he had met the stunning woman, Glenna, who became his wife and first official model. Encouraged to develop his talent by Gene Sayles, the manager of Brown and Bigelow's Kansas City branch office, DeVorss soon received his first commission from the company.

To celebrate, DeVorss and his wife moved to New York and set up a penthouse studio in the Beaux Arts Building, at Eighteen East Tenth Street. Signing up with the prestigious American Artists group, DeVorss spent the next several years working for calendar-publishing houses such as Brown and Bigelow, The Thos. D. Murphy Calendar Co., Joseph C. Hoover, and Louis F. Dow. Most of his pastel originals were large and bore his highly distinctive Art Deco inspired signature.

Covers for Beauty Parade and the King Features Syndicate as well as calendar commissions from the Osborne and Goes companies followed in the early 1940s. In 1949, the artist illustrated a highly successful campaign for Botany Woollen's robes with depictions of handsome men lounging at home with their own DeVorss pin-ups.

DeVorss used an incredible variety of pastel colours for his work, and he applied them directly onto the board, blending them dry with his fingers. His occasional oil paintings bear the rich, painterly brushstrokes of the Sundblom School. Like Rolf Armstrong, DeVorss always worked from live models for the final painting. He did, however, employ photographs for preliminary stages. His vibrant pin-ups, inspired by New York's theatres and nightclubs, display a fine sense of composition, a flowing, graceful line, and a daring blend of colours.

In 1951, Billy and Glenna DeVorss returned to St. Joseph, their first home. After some time there, they settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, where DeVorss died in 1985.

Above: Altered version of image in vintage print included in sale

A vintage print of this image is included in the sale interestingly the background color was changed by the printers to a black color.


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