"Girl In A Green Dress"

Earl Moran

Earl Moran - (1893-1984)

  This gouache on board painting was created by Earl Moran for use as a calendar by the Brown and Bigelow Calendar Company. Moran's expert use of lighting and vivid contrast of color makes this painting very appealing to the eye. The beautiful girl in this painting is wearing a wonderful evening gown. On the back of the painting is written # 8342 and a sticker from Brown and Bigelow states, "This painting is copyrighted by the Brown and Bigelow Calendar Company and may not be reproduced without the express written authority of Brown and Bigelow". Interestingly, in this painting, the calendar shown next to the image of the girl is dated through February 29th, which means this was a leap year. The sequence of leap years during the time period that this painting was probably created was 1940, 1944,1948, 1952, or 1956. Moran worked for Brown and Bigelow until 1957. Our guess is that this painting was created for use as a calendar in one of the above listed years.

  Earl Moran was one of the most important pin-up and glamour artists of the twentieth century. He was born on December 8, 1893 in Belle Plaine, Iowa. As a child, Moran was inspired by the work of Charles Dana Gibson and James Montgomery Flagg. Growing up on a midwest farm, he longed for the lights and glamour of the big cities. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago for 2 years, and moved on to Manhattan, where he would enroll at the Art Student's League and study under muralist Vincent Dumond, Robert Henri, Thomas Fogerty (Norman Rockwell's teacher) and the legendary anatonomist George Bridgeman.

  As a way of introducing himself, Moran sent some paintings of girls in bathing suits to the Thomas D. Murphy and Brown and Bigelow Calendar Companies. When both companies bought his work, his career was launched. In 1932, Moran signed an exclusive contract with Brown and Bigelow. In 1946, after surviving a scandalous divorce, and having become Brown and Bigelow's best selling pin-up artist, Moran packed his bags and moved to Hollywood. He had already painted several movie stars, including Betty Grable for publicity posters. It was in Hollywood that he soon interviewed a young starlet named Norma Jean Dougherty who was interested in modeling for him. The two became friends and she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn would pose for Moran's paintings for the next four years. She always credited Moran with making her legs, (which she believed were too thin) look better than they were. Moran once commented that "her body was as expressive as her face, which made all her poses good".

  Creating just the perfect amount of light on his models was important to Moran, and he was an expert on lighting his models and sets. He used photography to capture the candid, natural expressions that he sought in his work. Moran worked in a variety of sizes and mediums, but generally he was most comfortable working in pastels, which were often 30 x 40 inches. Some of his magazine work is signed "Steffa" or Black Smith". Earl Steffa Moran died in January of 1984.

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