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ITEM: This is a c. 1920s vintage and original silver gelatin photograph taken by American illustrator and amateur photographer Charles Sheldon. Taken as an aid for his pastel portraiture work, likely for the advertising account he held with Fox Shoes, this view features a model hiking her textured dress up to reveal a stylish pair of high heels. A wonderful old Roaring '20s artifact!
Charles Gates Sheldon created the advertising pastels and paintings for lingerie companies, Fox Shoes, Breck Shampoo (he originated the “Breck Girl” campaign), and movie magazine cover portraits. Sheldon maintained a studio at Carnegie Hall in New York City during the twenties and thirties and photographed the glamorous Hollywood film stars of the era for his cover portrait work. Stars who sat for Sheldon include: Jean Harlow, Clara Bow, Marion Davies, Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, Olive Borden, Mary Pickford, and dozens more.
What makes this collection so interesting is these stills were never meant for public consumption. They were taken to be used for his pastel portraiture work. Many are unscripted - Sheldon was an amateur photographer and it is unique to see such glamorous stars posed often times so informally. Part of Sheldon’s talent was a knack for convincing his artist’s models and leading ladies to pose for him partially undressed or fully nude — emulating the spirit of NYC’s Ziegfeld Follies and other burlesque revues which had taken Manhattan by storm during the Roaring 20s.
Measures 5" x 7" on single-weight matte paper stock.
CONDITION: Please use the included images as a conditional guide.
Guaranteed to be 100% vintage and original from Grapefruit Moon Gallery.
Charles Sheldon was a prolific and gifted early 1900's American Illustrator who specialized in "pretty woman" themed cover portraiture and advertising in the Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles. After studying at the Art Students League, he went to Paris to study under the legendary Alphonse Mucha. He returned to America and set up a studio at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
In 1918 Sheldon received his first pin-up commission, a series of ads for La Vogue lingerie. He went on to do a series of work for the Fox Shoe Company as well as front covers for Collier's Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and Photoplay.
By 1921 he was contributing high fashion portraits to Woman's Home Companion and Theater magazine. Famous women all over the world arranged to sit for portraits in his studio in Carnegie Hall in New York.
The pastels he created for Photoplay 1925- 1930 launched his career as a portrait cover artist. During this time period most of the stars sat three or four times for each of these portraits, later came cover art commissions for Screenland, Movie Classic and Radio Digest magazines.
His glamorous interpretations of Clara Bow, Mae West, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Gilda Gray, Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple and hundreds of other early tinsel town enchantresses were in high demand for these attention grabbing newsstand viewed publications.
Charles Sheldon like many of his contemporary illustrators was also a competent photographer, Grapefruit Moon Gallery recently acquired a large archive of his Carnegie Hall studio portraits that we will be offering for sale on our site in the coming months.
In 1936, Breck Shampoo asked this famous portrait artist to develop a national ad campaign and the ever-successful "Breck Girl" advertisements were born, Sheldon is known to have created 109 portraits for them until his retirement in the late 1950’s.
Charles Sheldon was one the highest paid illustrators of his time and his cover illustrations were ingrained in the minds and eyes of the American people. He died in 1961 at his home in Springfield with his beloved summer gardens.