Story of Jaws, the painting

 Articles Wp-Content Uploads 2012 06 Lead-1

It's one of the most iconic images of 1970s Hollywood. Roger Kastel was the painter who riffed on book illustrator Paul Bacon's original Doubleday Books cover (above left) for Peter Benchley's Jaws to create the famous oil painting that appeared on the paperback and 1975 movie post (above right). Over at Collector's Weekly, our pal Ben Marks tells the story of the artwork's creation and its subsequent disappearance. From Collector's Weekly:

As Kastel remembers it, (Bantam publisher Oscar) Dystel was not a fan of the Doubleday cover and wanted Kastel to look at the cover with fresh eyes. “He wanted me read the book to pick out a new part to illustrate. But, of course, the best part was the beginning, where Chrissie goes into the water nude.” Turns out the Doubleday concept, if not the execution, was not so bad after all. Kastel did a sketch for Dystel and Leone to critique. “The only direction Oscar and Len gave me was to make the shark bigger, and very realistic.”

To research his new assignment, Kastel went to the Museum of Natural History, whose photo department was his frequent source for reference materials. “They didn’t have anything I could use,” he says, “so I asked if they had a shark exhibit. They said they did but that it was closed for cleaning. It was lunchtime, so I went upstairs anyway, and there were all these different stuffed sharks, just laying on boards. I had my camera with me so I took a few pictures. The shark in my painting developed from there. I just tried to paint a ferocious-looking shark that was still realistic.”

"Real Hollywood Thriller: Who Stole Jaws?"



  1. Why did he go to the shark exhibit? Any ancient civilization hall would have had all the phallic symbols needed.

    1. Wait, you mean that dildo-shaped form below the naked woman is a phallic symbol? ; )

  2. Thanks to this book/movie and Chinese erectile dysfunction, sharks may appear only in CGI or old books/movies some day.

    Some asshat movie exec is probably just itching to redo jaws… but this time, the shark will eat more babies.

  3.  Couple of years ago I made a book jacket based on Jaws theme. When I started to read the manuscript it appeared to me rewritten word by word. The only difference was that instead of the shark there was a dog.

  4. The original, while definitely dildoesque, also looks a bit like some kind of parasitic worm. 

Comments are closed.