"A Christmas Number, Judge Magazine Cover"   Lot no. 3520

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By R. John Holmgren (1897-1963)

14.00" x 18.50;" Framed 20.00" x 24.50"
Gouache on Illustration Board
Light Pencil Signature Lower Left in the Artwork



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Front Cover Art Judge Magazine December 1933

In a departure from their typical flapper cover, John Holmgren created this nostalgic depiction of a ruddy pair in Colonial fashion laden down with gifts for the long-running humor magazine's December 1933 "Christmas Number" issue. Historical fantasy themes proved a popular escapist subject matter during Great Depression, and Holmgren's whimsical gouache on board is a delightful example of the genre. A complete printed issue of the magazine accompanies the painting. Please note, the pink pigment in the gouache has significantly faded over the years due to the nature of materials available during the lean years when this was created.

Explore related art collections: Christmas/ Holiday / $100 - $5,000 / Magazine Covers / Winter

See all original artwork by R. John Holmgren



R. John Holmgren (1897- 1963) American Illustrator and Artist. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he attended the St. Paul Art Institute. He moved to NYC in 1919 and attended Columbia University and the Art Students League. He married Emilie Pope in 1923, and she worked as his model for many of the illustrations and art that he did for the next 30 years.

In 1941, Holmgren was elected as the president of Society of Illustrators, after Harold Von Schmidt and served until 1944. As a Society member during World War II, he participated in its massive poster campaigns, and created the "Loose Talk Can Cost Lives," a poster in which a man resembling Hitler reading a newspaper with the headline War Moves and with a big ear is listening to a serviceman, bragging about his mission to girlfriend.

Holmgren's artwork was quite detailed with a mixture of classic Art Deco, 1920s flapper, and Japonisme. He did covers and illustration for most of the major magazines of the day including Life, Judge, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Colliers, American, Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s, Readers Digest, Saturday Evening Post, This Week, and many major newspapers.

His advertising clients included Ford, Chevrolet, Maxwell House Coffee, American Airlines, Pacific Mills, Fleischman’s Yeast, Fleischman’s Castoria, Webster Cigars, International Sterling, Revere Copper & Brass, Celanese Corporation of America, American Express, the Cunard Lines and White Rock Sparkling Water series featuring Psyche, the popular water nymph.

Mr. Holmgren was a very popular and well known illustrator in his day. Walt Reed in the book, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000 notes: "His illustrations appeared in most of the national magazines and for many advertisers, including Chervrolet, Ford, Alcoa, White Rock and Cunard Lines. A long time member of the Society of Illustrators, Holmgren was its president from 1941 to 1944."