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Edward D'Ancona (American, b.20th Century)


One of the most prolific pinup artists of the last century, Edward D’Ancona is something of a mystery. While his pinups number in the hundreds over the course of three decades, his personal life was always kept apart from his art.

There are a few things that we do know about D’Ancona. From 1935 to 1937, D’Ancona’s work was published by Louis F. Dow of St. Paul, Minnesota. These pinups, oil on canvas, were reminiscent of early work from another pinup icon of the era, Gil Elvgren. During this time D’Ancona often signed, “D’Amerie” at the bottom of these paintings, though his real name also appears on calendar prints from this time.

After leaving Minnesota sometime at the end of the 1930s, D’Ancona would go on to produce work for the Goes Company, an advertising firm based out of Cincinnati. His work mainly appeared in soft-drink advertisements and referenced many of D’Ancona’s artistic inspirations and contemporaries, most notably Harold Sundblom’s work for Coca-Cola.

D’Ancona’s art would take a huge step forward in the 1940s and 1950s. His confident brushstrokes, combined with bold use of primary colors afforded him stature in the pinup artist community that few others could boast. His painterly style led to more work from Dow, who commissioned him for hundreds of portraits, nudes, and evening-gown scenes for the better part of two decades.

The 1960s saw a different side of D’Ancona. He moved on from the pinups and glamour images of his youth, instead choosing to focus on idyllic suburban life in the style of Norman Rockwell. While these images did have certain aspects of previous D’Ancona work, notably the brush style and portrait dimensions, they were a far cry from the work that had made him famous. These images still burst from the canvas, with D’Ancona’s colors imbuing life and meaning to otherwise trivial moments. A true artist, D’Ancona would retire from painting sometime in the sixties. He would leave behind no trace of his personal life, but it is through his work that we see the desires and dreams of the man behind the art, a true American original.

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