Current cover of Esquire inspired by 1920s pin-up artist?


Jack R runs a blog dedicated to the great early 20th century illustrator Enoch Bolles. Here, he takes a look at a the November 2011 cover of Esquire, comparing it with this 1920's cover of Film Fun, with a Bolles illo. Do you think the Esquire photographer was inspired by the Bolles illo (or was inspired by someone else who was inspired by Bolles)? If so, neat! If not, it is interesting how both the illustrator and the photographer used a similar pose.

Current cover of Esquire inspired by 1920s pin-up artist?


  1. There are only so many different poses. Until someone genetically engineers humans with additional joints and/or limbs that is.

  2. Hmm, could be an imitation, or an homage.

    I wonder if Rhianna was lightened up, as is so often the case in glamour shots of ostensibly black beauties.

    1. “Sexy human model bodies only fold so many ways.”

      Tell that to Zlata, the self-described goddess of flexibility. 

      (N.B., there’s no explicit nudity at this link, but by some standards it might still be NSFW.)

  3. Isn’t that a fairly classic pose that has been done before? I can’t imagine this is the first time anyone is seeing a pose like that.

  4. The question is without substance.
    There have been literally millions of magazine covers since the Film Fun example. It is statistically certainly that thousands have resemblances. The Esquire example isn’t really even close, either in the vast obvious differences or in nuances such as hand and foot position. The human trait of imposing pattern is what allowed us to survive as a species, but it also spawned the faulty correlations underpinning supernatural and conspiratorial thought.

      1. For a second I thought that was yahoo-KEEYVOKLLBZUMX3PLWZ735JM4F. That yahoo-KEEYVOKLLBZUMX3PLWZ735JM4F is a douche. But this yahoo-KEEYVOKLLBZUMX3PLWZ735JM4E seems 100% fine with me.

        I love you yahoo-KEEYVOKLLBZUMX3PLWZ735JM4E !

      1. Just Google “Rihanna”.  I’m sure there’s been at least a million pictures of her in the past six years.  I think she’s a Cylon.

      2. I think you misread the guy. He said that there have been millions of magazine covers total since that one on the left. He didn’t say there have been millions with that pose.

        I very much agree with the people who say there’s zero chance it inspired the Esquire cover. My personal reasoning is that the left cover is merely a striking pose they decided to use. The Esquire cover is mostly yet another pose to cover up the naughty bits :)

      3. I really wish yahoo-KEEYVOKLLBZUMX3PLWZ735JM4E  had the time and could provide that million links as it would show MF that one hit, a coincidence he may have stumbled upon, may not be necessarily significant  and/or worthy of a post!  We know MF can MAKE but can he LEARN?

  5. Is there any reason to think this is a particularly rare pose?  Or that the photograph in question has a reason to copy Bolles?  The vast number of covers and limited number of poses imply there will be lots of overlap.  If you don’t see why this is mathematically likely, you can read up on the birthday problem on wikipedia:

    1. I suspect one of the limiting factors (especially for the current cover, but also for the older one, considering the times) would be: how many poses are there in which you could display a nude woman while still keeping her “naughty bits” “tastefully” covered?  Not too many poses would completely conceal all trace of nipple, buttcrack, and genital area without looking unnatural, artificially posed, or utilizing props or set dressing.  Or extra leaves of seaweed.

  6. I feel like I’ve seen this pose before. Seems like a decent solution for maximizing the amount of magazine page that one can cover with Pretty Lady.

  7. I find it sad – SAD – that my beloved BoingBoing has sunk to posting the lowest and second-lowest forms of internet content – cheesecake and rank comment bait – disguised as content analysis. 

    On a Friday afternoon, no less. How dare you! At long last, have you no scruples?

    Needless to say, I shall NOT be renewing my subscription, and I shall suggest to all my chums that they decide and announce the same action for themselves, posthaste. 

    Good day to you, ladies and gentlemen. I say GOOD DAY.

    1. To Mack and everyone, the period of 1900-1950 was known as the Golden Age of Illustration Art.  Any artist with any talent (who wanted to make $) went into the field creating illustrations for advertisements, to accompany stories fiction,  and for magazine covers.   Enoch Bolles was one the world’s finest illustrators and probably the greatest pinup artist.  Given ESQUIRE’s long history with pinup art, I see the current cover as a tribute to the genre and to Bolles’ June, 1942 FILM FUN cover in particular.   I’ll bet a letter to ESQUIRE’s editor will bring a response.

        1. Maybe.   Perhaps during the shoot an identical shot, and many slight variations of the earlier Bolles pose were taken, and the one used was the one they thought looked best.   The 1942 Bolles work was incredibly risque for the time, and holds up well.

  8. I’m just impressed that they haven’t whittled Rihanna down to Gollumesque thinness.  I mean, she looks like she could actually support her own weight if she tried to walk.

  9. I took some studio photography courses, and they said there are just certain classic glamour poses. Like there’s one where you look demurely over your shoulder. I think this is probably one of them. It’s not explicit copying.

    On the other hand, I don’t think they mentioned anything about wilted lettuce.

    1. The one with her wearing the randosel (that backpack) is actually based off of a suggestive gag manga cover (SFW).  How do I know this?  Cause the mangaka let it be known that he was secretly in on the photo shoot after it took place.  The particular manga in question was presented in such a way by a politician as to make it seem like it was nothing but porn scenes, however there is no nudity in it whatsoever.

      Edit: Since it didn’t save the file name, the name of it is “My Wife is an Elementary Schooler,” which is why it was a bit controversial.

  10. yay photo history. it’s a variation of Edward Weston’s Nude (1936) photograph. quite a popular photograph too.

  11. I just bought a table at Target and it’s rectangular. Here, I take a look at an Ikea catalog. Do you think the Target designer was inspired by the Ikea table (or was inspired by someone else who was inspired by Ikea)? If so, neat! If not, it is interesting how both designers used a similar shape.

    Only half kidding ;-).

    1. I was about to say that looks like a badly done yoga pose.  Yoga was a bit of a fad in the 20s, so it’s not impossible that both models were trying to do it or had seen it done.

  12. Maybe people don’t seat like that all the time, but women in that kind of shots seat like that all the time:

    only a quick search in only one stock photo agency. It’s a pose so common that is a stock photo theme.

    Apart from the pose the too cover are not very similar, the mood is completely different.

  13. Similar in only the vaguest sort of way. Pay attention to the positions of the hands, feet, and face relative to the right leg, the visual anchor of the image. Notice that there is basically nothing the same? Really, this is a very common glamour pose and has been since the beginning.

  14. Unknown roman sculpter- Bathing woman,  In the british museum circa 100 BCE

    standard pose really, if you want to paint a nude and have all the “parts” covered

    Ill see if I can find a link to the object, butr I fountd similar images by durer, Goya, Tinian, even a Rembrant in the same basic pose

  15. Nope, not a chance, I would doubt he’s ever seen that pinup, just like almost none of us here ever have. The only similarity is a passing resemblance in the pose. Had this photographer been “Insipred” By the pinup shoot the mood would likely be more positive and it would have much more color. 

  16. They are both pieces of figurative are representative of a human female form; OF COURSE THEY LOOK SIMILAR!

    All humans are built on the same body plan of two legs, one torso, two arms and one head.

    There are only so many variations that are possible. Its biology not creative arts.

  17. I was hoping this post was going to be satire on the lawsuit she lost because Rihanna did a fetish inspired video and some jerk off photographer sued and actually won, simply on the basis that she has money and they both are into certain fetishes. It was a ridiculous lawsuit, much like this post.

  18. I think I know the connection. They’re both sexually objectified women used to sell magazines! The only two such photos in existence, I gather.

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