Cover by Rolf Armstrong

December 27, 2010 at 12:31 am (Photo Gallery)

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Throughout the silent era, the typical fan magazine featured a film star on the cover, almost always a young actress. It was impractical to use color photographs in those days, so the images were paintings, created by a relative handful of artists who specialized in such work.

My favorite of these artists was Rolf Armstrong (1889-1960), who cranked out an incredible number of beautiful portraits for magazines, calendars, advertisements and sheet music.

His most familiar work in the magazine field is probably a long series of breathtaking covers for College Humor in the early 1930s. His movie magazine covers were usually one-offs appearing here and there, but the publishers of Screenland signed a deal with him in 1923, and over the next year that magazine’s cover bore a succession of new Armstrong film star portraits.

Here’s a sampling of that series.

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February — Marion Davies

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May — Anita Stewart

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June — May McAvoy

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July — Pola Negri

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September — Nita Naldi

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– – – Christopher Snowden

 

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4 Comments

  1. John Howard Reid said,

    Wow! And that Nita Naldi cover is out of this world!

  2. taiko said,

    Wow. very cool art.. I don’t know who’s in the picture

  3. Mary Mallory said,

    I have about 7 pieces of sheet music that he was illustrator for, very beautiful portraits as well.

  4. ymmv said,

    Those covers are _beautfiul_! Thank you for posting them.

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