Along with Alberto Vargas, George Petty is one of the best known
and most respected of the pin-up artists. Petty was born in Abbeville,
Louisiana in 1894 and after the family moved to Chicago Petty started working
in his father's photography studio. After graduating from high school Petty
travelled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul
Laurens. Petty then returned to Chicago, working as a photo retoucher for a
local printing company.
By the early 20's Petty was working as a freelance artist, painting
calendar girls and covers for The Household magazine. It wasn't until 1926
that Petty opened his first studio in Chicago, by which time his client list
had grown enormously.
George Petty is best remembered for his pin-up creation The Petty
Girl, an American icon that lasted from 1933 to 1956. The Petty Girl
was origionaly based on Petty's wife, although like Vargas and many artist's
after him, Petty usually combined the best features from a variety of models.
He also often shrunk the head and elongated the torso and legs to heighten
the effect. The Petty Girl started life in Esquire magazine in the Autumn of
1933, however she soon spread to advertisments, calendars and film posters.
Petty left Esquire in 1940, soon after they had hired Vargas, however he
continued to work well into the 70's for companies like True
Calendars and the Ridgid Tool Company. George Petty died on
July 21st, 1975, in San Pedro, California.