J. Frederick Smith

In 1946, when Esquire announced its new Gallery of Glamour series, the list of artists included the name of J. Frederick Smith, along with many of the top illustrators of the day. Working out of his New York studio, Smith was a brilliant artist who enjoyed incorporating pin-up and glamour themes into his mainstream work. His advertisements for Whitman's Chocolates, for instance, featured mothers who were as glamorous as movie stars.

Although Smith's pin-ups for the Gallery of Glamour were impressive, it was his special assignments for the magazine that distinguished him from his colleagues. His memorable three- or four-page illustrated articles, with titles like "Personal Interpretations", first appeared in 1946. He also painted pin-ups for Esquire's famous two-page gatefolds as part of a relationship that was to last more than a dozen years.

From about 1945 on, Smith was represented by the well-known American Artists agency. In 1952, the firm made a deal with Brown & Bigelow whereby several prominent Esquire pin-up artists would combine forces to create a calendar. The result, the 1953 Ballyhoo calendar, contained three pin-ups by Smith: a girl with a record player (Above center), a girl holding a carnation up to her face, and a bikini-clad beach girl. All were painted in gouache on #80 Bainbridge drawing board, which imparted a special luminosity to Smith's colors.

Smith was born in Pasedena and grew up in Covina, California. He moved east in 1938 and settled in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he opened a studio for his freelance commercial art work. Many mainstream magazines immediately commissioned him to provide illustrations for their love and romance stories. After service in the Information and Education Section of the Army during World War II, Smith plunged back into the glamour illustration business. He was elected an artist member of the Society of Illustrators in November 1947.

Smith attained much success as a pin-up, glamour, and mainstream illustrator in the first half of his career; he spent the last half as a highly skilled glamour and fashion photographer. He went on to receive many photographic commissions from magazines, ad agencies, and corporate clients, and his work found its largest audience in magazines like Reader's Digest and The Saturday Evening Post. In the 1960s and 1970s, several art books featuring photographs of his ideal feminine beauties were published. Whether he was working in illustration or photography, that subject was Smith's abiding subject.

J. Frederick Smith bio from 'The Great American Pin-Up