Mabel Rollins Harris

From the late 1930s until the end of the 1930s, Harris' exqusite pastels were among the most admired in the calendar-art business. Many of her great Art Deco pin-ups effectively expressed the magic and mystery inherent in the romantic themes that were so popular during the era. She was particularly known for spectacular nudes like Golden Dawn (Above, similar to Psyche) and Storm Queen, which were kept in the catalog of the Joseph C. Hoover and Sons calendar company for seven consecutive years.

Rollins' three pin-ups for the Thomas D. Murphy Company during the late 1920s aroused the admiration of Rolf Armstrong, who told the firm's art director that he envied the brilliant glow and softness of her finished pastels. Of her pin-ups during the 1930s for the Gertach-Barklow Calendar Company, the most successful was another nude, seated in the moonlight on a rock surrounded by deep blue water (At Water's Edge, 1930, Above).

Harris also did calendar work for Brown & Bigelow, starting in 1933 with a commission for a sentimental subject entitled Blue Heaven. She continued to work on such non-pin-up themes, especially for Hoover, where her series depicting young girls in idyllic gardens was a great success. Her original paintings for such images were also executed in pastels, on stretched canvas; regardless of the subject matter, her paintings averaged 18 x 22 inches (71.1 x 55.9 cm).

Because of the special softness of Harris' pastels, her work was extremely popular in the mainstream illustration and publishing community. Major magazines like The Saturday Evening Post commissioned her to paint pastel images for their covers. For many years, she did freelance work for the Rustcraft and Norcross greeting card companies, specializing in religious and Christmas subjects.

Undoubtedly the finest female illustrator of the Art Deco era, Harris had her pin-up nudes and glamour art reproduced and published on millions of calendars. Her sentimental non-pin-up subjects enjoyed an equally long life span, being published in many forms, including puzzles, fans, and decorations on candy boxes.

Mabel Rollins Harris bio from 'The Great American Pin-Up