Rolf Armstrong was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1889, the son of
Richard and Harriet Armstrong. It was not until the family moved to
Detroit in 1899 that Rolf began to show an interest in art. His early
sketches are of sailors, boxers, cowboys and other macho types. Armstrong
left Detroit for Chicago and the renowned Art Institute of Chicago, where,
to survive he taught boxing, baseball and art while he studied. After
Chicago Rolf arrived in New York, where he started producing images for
magazine covers the first being for ‘Judge’ in 1912.
He started producing calendar girls in 1919, the first being called
‘Dream Girl’, this name soon became synonymous with his work,
along with the label ‘The Armstrong Girl’. Throughout the 20's
and early 30's Armstrongs images seemed to reflect the youthful charm of
the ‘Flapper Girl’, and many of his paintings have a haughty,
Art Deco sophistication to them. Although he carried on painting throughout
the 40's and into the 50's, Armstrong faced stiff competition from new
artists such as Vargas, Elvgren, Moran and Mozert. He retired in the late
50's and moved to Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii in Sepember 1959, where he died
a few months later in February 1960.
The image accompanying this article is a pastel on board Self-portrait
painted by Rolf Armstrong in 1914. It measures 21 x 14 1/4 inches.