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    Description

    Alberto Vargas (Peruvian/American, 1896-1982)
    Mara Corday, True Girl, February 1952
    Watercolor on board
    30 x 20 inches (76.2 x 50.8 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left

    One of the most iconic pinup images ever created, collectors of Alberto Vargas will immediately recognize the model's pose in the present work as the classic V-leg calling card of the artist. Vargas utilized this composition as his signature on letterheads, business cards, and advertisements. However, what enthusiast might not realize is that the sitter for his famed letterhead, famed actress and model Mara Corday, posed for this image twice -- first in 1947 and again in 1952. The first version, with Ms. Corday's face obscured by her hand, was signed Varga and therefore, lost to Esquire magazine.

    After leaving the magazine in 1946, Vargas sued Esquire for the rights to his Varga Girls. The legal battle would continue for 4 years. The young actress, Mara Corday, first sat for Vargas in 1947. The artist would utilize this image for his famed 1948 Varga calendar and reinterpret the sketch as letterhead, business cards, etc for his newly created Varga Enterprises. In 1950, the artist not only lost the rights to any of his artwork utilizing "Varga" including his 162 pinups painted for Esquire and the 1948 Varga calendar with original Mara Corday image, but also the use of the name, his name, itself.

    In 1950, Alberto Vargas was jobless, his loving wife ill, and on the verge of losing his home. It was in this low moment, that Vargas created a series of twelve nudes later known as the Legacy Nudes. The artist then sent transparencies of these nudes to every men's magazine he could find including True magazine looking for work. After explaining to the art director, Al Allard, that he was not legally allowed to use the Varga name, Mr. Allard shrugged - they were interested in the art, not the name. Esquire went on to sue the artist for the works signed "Vargas" in True but ultimately failed. This win and the publication of his nine True Girls including the present work revitalized the artist and his career. Alberto Vargas was reborn . Perhaps that is why the artist returned to the original model, Mara Corday, to recreate the original V-leg pose. The present work illustrates the artist reclaiming his art and his name -- V is for Vargas, not Varga.

    This pin-up was reproduced on page 70 of Vargas (Taschen, 1990).

    This painting was reproduced on the King of Spades card in the deck of cards first published in 1950.

    She also appeared on a billboard in San Francisco high above Union Square advertising a Vargas exhibition in 1986. At least twenty feet high, her legs extended beyond the top of the billboard.


    More information about Alberto Vargas, also known as Vargas, Alberto, Alberto Vargas.



    Condition Report*: No framed. Extremely minor loss tot eh top right corner. Over all toning. 1 inch abrasion on the center left and right edge. 1/4 inch area of adhesive residue on the right foot. Scattered scuffs and wear commensurate with age.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    30th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,213

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