Charles Dana Gibson

More faces. The Dover Design Sample arrived in my inbox this morning and these girls stood out to me, as I have been painting so many faces recently. They are by American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson – who I had never heard of, though his illustrations are so iconic they seem instantly recognisable. With a little google searching I was fascinated to read about a whole chunk of American illustration history. Gibson was an illustrator turned editor and owner of Life magazine, owner of an island, head of the US government’s pictorial publicity division during WWI, whose illustrations captured a modern kind of American woman. She was a spirited, independent woman who played sport, had a career, drove a car and even had the vote. His “Gibson Girls”  became enormously popular:

“There was merchandising of the Gibson Girl on the level of Mickey Mouse or Star Wars. Large size books (“table albums,” they were called), china plates and saucers, ashtrays, tablecloths, pillow covers, chair covers, souvenir spoons, screens, fans, umbrella stands…all bore the image of Gibson’s creations. There was even a wallpaper for bachelor apartments, with the lovely Gibson faces in endless array.

A popular turn-of-the-century hobby, pyrography, saw people burning the Gibson Girl into leather and wood; and the image was traced and stitched into handkerchiefs. There were plays, songs, and even a movie based on his creation.” from


Wikipedia on Charles Dana Gibson

About Irene Langhorne Gibson who married Gibson after turning down 66 (!) previous suitors.

That’s my art history paper for the day. Bye!

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7 Responses

  1. alice says:

    Gibson Girl wallpaper? Must have! I’ve always loved these gals. They’re so _unsimpering_ compared with so many of the other popular models of femme from the era. Plus they have fabulous hair 😉

  2. Carm says:

    Oh, I ADORE the Gibson Girl look. I am excited to be reminded of these. Thanks for your post. I may have to read up a bit more on Charles Dana Gibson. I do know that the Library of Congress has some of his illustrations archived because I’ve looked at them online.

  3. mimsie says:

    I love Gibson Girl illustrations! Thanks for bringing them up!

  4. Tali says:

    wow! yet they still have those sultry bedroom eyes! haha

  5. Crystal says:

    my boyfriend has the 4th girl tattooed on his arm. -=]

  6. Erstwhile says:

    Love the meringue hair.

  7. Theresa says:

    The woman in the top right corner was not a “Gibson Girl” used in any ads. She was my Great Grandmother. Charles Dana Gibson thought she wa beautiful and asked if he could sketch her. She said yes, so he sketched her on a linen napkin which is framed and hangs in our family home. It is so beautiful.

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