"A Woman Among Books with a Man in Fedora Behind Her"   Lot no. 3313

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By John Lagatta (1894-1977)

c. 1940 (Estimated)
24.02" x 32.05"
Oil on Canvas



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John LaGatta showed a full appreciation of the female figure in his illustrations. In even the most decorously dressed of his models, the clothes appeared to reveal the figure rather than to hide it. Millions of readers would have had it no other way.

   Despite his emphasis on the figure, there is no overtone of suggestiveness in LaGatta’s work. The women are painted in frank admiration of their beauty and he made them colorful, curvaceous, and vital.

   LaGatta was born in Naples, Italy, but received his education in America, studying under Kenneth Hayes Miller and Frank Alvah Parsons at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. His first work was in advertising and much of his early work shows the influence of Etienne Drian, the famous French illustrator.

   As he developed his own personal style, LaGatta’s work was in tremendous demand. He worked for nearly a decade to the limit of his capacities in supplying all the magazines that competed for his pictures. After the ‘forties, LaGatta curtailed his output, but found a new career in teaching at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, California where he was a tough but enthusiastic instructor. He was elected into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame in 1984.