Rolf Armstrong (1889 – 1960, USA) is by many considered the father of the Pin-up art. He is the best known for the calendar girl illustrations he produced for Brown & Bigelow.
Armstrong attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and after a trip to Paris in 1919 to study at the Académie Julian, he returned to New York and established a studio.
He always worked from life, never using photographs, and consequently met the great stars of the 20’s and 30’s, who came to pose for his portraits (Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Katherine Hepburn, to name a few). His pastel paintings appeared on many pieces of sheet music, as well as on the covers of many magazines. His pastel illustrations set the glamour-art standard for feminine beauty that would dominate the genre for the next four decades. With a pastel palette of 3600 colors, Armstrong worked with models in his Manhattan studio, creating enormous originals (typical size 39″ by 28″), surviving examples of which are today among the most valuable pin-ups.
The pastel painting above is one of the artist’s most widely distributed images. It has been used in playing cards, advertising blotters, notebook tablets, calendars and prints in all sizes and configurations.