Haddon Sundblom and the Chicago Pin-Up Artists

In the book, The Great American Pin-Up, co-authors Charles Martignette and Louis Meisel credit Haddon Sundblom with being "recognized today as the inspiration behind the best pin-up and glamor artists from the 1930s through the 1960s." Certainly Sundblom's Circle of apprentices are responsible for some of the most gorgeous interpretations of the female form. Below, a couple of the most famous pin-up artists of that group: Gil Elvgren...


... and Joyce Ballantyne.


As you can see from this ad below, taken from the 1946 New York Art Directors Annual, Elvgren, Ballantyne and several other Sundblom Circle artists were represented by Stevens Gross Studios.


This is where things get a bit confusing for me. The 1956 American Artist article on Haddon Sundblom describes Earl Gross as a "direct offspring of the Sundblom personality" - and Sundblom himself tells interviewer Frederic Whitaker that, "In 1925 Howard Stevens, Edwin Henry and I started our own outfit known as Stevens, Sundblom & Henry." So how and when did Stevens Gross come about? In another book, "The Elvgren Collection," author Marianne Ohl Phillips writes that Gil Elvgren joined Stevens Gross at age 22 and subsequently became a protegé of Haddon Sundblom, suggesting that Sunny was among the artists in Stevens Gross' stable. Very confusing...

Another Sundblom Circle artist, Chuck Showalter, joined Sundblom's studio in 1946 when it was known as "Sundblom and Anderson."  Within 8 months of his joining the studio changed to "Sundblom, Johnston and White."


Showalter reported that Sunny left the studio in 1956 to partner with a former apprentice, Harry Ekman (below).


Here are a few more lovely ladies by some of the seemingly countless Sundblom Circle alumni: Al Moore...


... Euclid Shook...


... Freeman Elliot...


... Coby Whitmore, who by the mid-1940s had migrated to New York and became a star at the Charles E. Cooper studio.


... Ward Brackett...


... Al Buell...


... get the picture?

Tomorrow: one more day of Sundblom and his Circle

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