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
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
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.