"Gibson Girl" cover illustration for "Life" magazine (1908): rare, beautifully framed antique
April 19, 1908 Issue
Image Size: H 15.00” x W 11.00”
Matted & Framed: H 22.00” x W 18.00”
Framed Price: $285.00
Whiteglove packaging and shipping approximately $25.00
This famous Life cover features an enchanting woman who is noticing you noticing her.
She is of course a Gibson Girl, which means that she is not just a beautiful vision. According to Susan Meyer, she represents “the independent spirit.” Gallant, courageous, self-reliant, she was “equally self-assured at a cotillion, on the seat of a bicycle, or in a canoe.” [America's Great Illustrators. Galahad Books. 1978. 208.] “An entire generation fell under the sway of her charms,” Prof. Meyer tells us. This alluring person left “an indelible imprint on the American character.”
Why was CDG able to produce this phenomenon? The only biography of Charles Dana Gibson was written by Fairfax Downey and published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1936. The author called it “A Portrait of an Era.” The era that Downey described was, naturally enough, the period in which CDG became famous. It was during these years that the nation industrialized. At the same time, corporations nationalized their markets and transformed Americans into consumers. While doing these things, the titans of American industry became so rich and profligate that Mark Twain christened their glorious moment The Gilded Age. It was also the Golden Age of American Illustration.
It tends to be forgotten with all the moralizing about the evils of conspicuous consumption and the unequal distribution of wealth that the Gilded Age was also the period in which the great American middle class formed. This powerful, restless organism was the driving force that underpinned America’s great economic miracle. Not everyone was lifted up during this miraculous event, but people everywhere were, and every American was eager to share in its bounty. For American consumers, men and women alike, the creature CDG presented them every day was the embodiment of this wonderful new world. Seeing her filled them with optimism and enthusiasm. "We can be like her," they fantasized imagined, What a scintillating idea! No wonder CDG became famous—and rich!