"In the Dentist's Chair, Post Cover"   Lot no. 4749

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By Kurt Ard (American, 1925-)

21.75" x 19.5"
Tempera on Paperboard
Signed Lower Right



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The original cover for The Saturday Evening PostIn The Dentist’s Chair, published on October 19, 1957, embodies Ard’s characteristic wit and attention to detail. The young man, still wearing a toy pistol in a holster, seems to have been torn from playing a cowboy with his friends. Having just completed his x-rays, which hang on the wall behind him, the boy awaits the arrival of the dentist to determine his fate.

Interestingly, the Post editors empathize with the dentist rather than the patient. The Post describes: “Dentists are to be pitied. How would you like to be greeted by horrified faces like this from morn till night throughout your professional career? Dentists are kindly, humane souls who love their fellowmen, minister constructively to their grinders, and seldom hurt the faint-hearts much while doing it–yet their only reward, besides a fee, is those eternal faces, staring, staring upward as if at an ogre. Next time you go to a D.D.S., smile at him; and if he doesn’t faint, maybe he’ll pull a couple of your teeth for nothing. Kurt Ard…was astonished that his model climbed into that chair looking happy and had to be urged to look awful. The lad, it developed, had just been to a dentist–his teeth were all filled.” (The Saturday Evening Post, October 19, 1957, p. 3)


Much like Norman Rockwell, Ard was inspired by everyday life and he often used his wife and children as models, striving to portray figures and their surroundings as accurately as possible. Ard’s strong attention to detail creates a visual delight on canvas and enhances the relatability of his narratives. These charming scenes of childhood and witty commentaries on relationships and daily life are representative of Ard’s endearing humor that defines his signature style.


Kurt Ard was born in Copenhagen in 1925 and apprenticed to a Danish painter in his youth. He sold his first magazine illustration at the age of seventeen and began his career working for small newspapers, but commissions were scarce at the time due to World War II. After the War, Ard achieved global fame for his covers produced for popular magazines throughout Europe and the United States from the 1950s through the 1970s. In Europe, Ard’s illustrations graced the covers of popular magazines, including PanoramaHÖRZUAllers, and Familie Journal. In the United States, Ard’s illustrations appeared on eight covers of The Saturday Evening Post, as well as the pages of other leading publications, including McCall’s and Reader’s Digest.


Ard had a unique challenge producing artwork for US-based publications from his studio in Copenhagen. According to The Saturday Evening Post, after the artist submitted his sketches to the magazine’s editors and art department, Ard had to wait for a response before beginning his final painting. He sometimes had to halt progress and wait for approval if he wanted to make changes mid-project. (Reference: Joseph Scales, “Beyond the Canvas: Covering Up,” The Saturday Evening Post online, published July 23, 2014.)



The Saturday Evening Post, October 19, 1957, cover illustration.

HÖRZU, November 21, 1964, cover illustration.

Allers, January 31, 1965, cover illustration.

Familie Journal, February 2, 1965, cover illustration.

The present work was Kurt Ard's first cover illustration for the

Saturday Evening Post, published on October 19, 1957.

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