Last night I was installing a new computer at home and had to move around several storage boxes for desk space. While doing this I rediscovered a few items that were tucked away. One was this small digest sized issue of Coronet from September 25, 1950. The only reason I have it is for the great illustration of a western family sporting their cuffed denim. The title of the piece is "The Great Open Spaces" and was illustrated by prominent artist J. Frederick Smith.
Coronet magazine was owned by Esquire and ran from October 1936 to March 1971.
J. Frederick Smith was born Pasadena, California in 1917; Smith attended the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles on a Walt Disney scholarship, where he studied painting and design. In 1938 he moved to New York City and joined the Charles E. Cooper studio, a prestigious illustration studio. There, Smith produced work for the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Red Book, and other magazines. Perhaps his best-known work at this time came during World War II, when he contracted with Esquire magazine to do a monthly illustration featuring sexy girls in lingerie—the kind of art that ended up repainted on the nose of American bombers. His career changed in 1956 when Conde Nast editorial director Alexander Liberman called Smith into his office and gave him an assignment for Vogue. Smith assumed it would be another illustration, but Liberman, looking into the future, told him to shoot a photograph instead. It wasn’t that big of a stretch for Smith, who’d long used photos as the basis for his illustrations. Nonetheless, there were differences between the two crafts. “I never realized what a physical business photography was,” Smith said. “I had been sitting on my ass painting all these years. Now, after a day on my feet photographing, I was more tired than I’d ever been.” Smith went on the shoot for Cosmopolitan, Essence, Look, and Town & Country, as well as commercial clients like Ford, Cartier, Smirnoff Vodka, and Revlon. But it was his sensuous photographs of women for magazines like Playboy, Lui, and Viva during the 1970s that will probably be best remembered. Smith passed away in October of 2006 at age 88.
To check out more of J. Frederick Smith's work, there's a nice facebook page showing his illustration and photography skills. Click here for The Art and Photography of J. Frederick Smith