Who do I see fading away?

April 21, 2014

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I am fascinated by the illustrations of Coles Phillips (1880-1927).  Phillips was an American illustrator who came to prominence in the early years of the 20th century.  His illustrations – many on the covers of Life, Good Housekeeping,and the Saturday Evening Post – gained popularity through his technique of leaving much to the imagination.

Labeled “fade-away” illustrations, his work often depicts young women whose clothing blend into the surroundings.  In his biography, The Making of an Illustrator, his widow explains,

His arrangements of the masses, small and large, were to him much more exciting than the color or the idea, or whether the girl was pretty.  Pure design, in other words, was his real love, and the fact that he made his reputation as a painter of pretty girls was more an accident than anything else.”

An illustrated biography can be found here.


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  1. Since I ran across him in San Diego I don’t mistake the style. He captured feminine beauty. The material fades away when you see the girl. You see the beauty.

    It never fades. I believe Cole captured the essence of beauty.

    • I agree. I think his style is very sophisticated.

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