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Classic Covers: The Stanlaws Girls

Published: December 2, 2011

“Woman in Black Hat” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Woman in Black Hat by Penrhyn Stanlaws From October 25, 1913

"Woman in Black Hat"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From October 25, 1913

Penrhn Stanlaws was born in 1877 in Dundee, Scotland. A prominent illustrator of the 1910s through 30s, his ladies would show up everywhere from cigarette ads to the covers of Colliers, The Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post. This 1913 cover was one of his first for the Post, and shows just how sophisticated a doe-eyed young lady could be. As an interesting aside, note where it says at bottom left, “Interview With.” Cut off are the words: Theodore Roosevelt.

“Bouquet of Roses” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Bouquet of Roses by Penrhyn Stanlaws From May 24, 1924

"Bouquet of Roses"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From May 24, 1924

Typical of the thirty-seven Post covers Stanlaws painted, we have a stylishly dressed, rather haughty lady and a hat to die for. The artist frequently used props (in addition to the dazzling chapeaus) such as bouquets or coffee cups.

About the name: Stanlaws was born Stanley Adamson. His brother, Sydney Adamson, was also an illustrator so Stanley changed his name to avoid confusion. Some might say that it would be difficult to come up with a name as confusing as Penrhyn Stanlaws, however.

“Elegant Lady Drinking Cup of Tea” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Elegant Lady Drinking Cup of Tea by Penrhyn Stanlaws From February 20, 1926

"Elegant Lady Drinking Cup of Tea"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From February 20, 1926

The pretty teacup punctuates this 1926 painting. This was the year George Burns married Gracie Allen, the dance craze was the Charleston and Harry Houdini died. And elegant ladies wearing dead animals sipped tea.

“Lady in Wide Brimmed Hat” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Lady in Wide Brimmed Hat by Penrhyn Stanlaws From – March 24, 1928

"Lady in Wide Brimmed Hat"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From – March 24, 1928

A reprint favorite, this 1928 cover is elegantly chic. Gift idea: Paired with the 1926 cover above, these two framed prints make a gorgeous wall display.

The ever-interesting Mr. Stanlaws dabbled with more than just paint: he played a key role in building the now historic Hotel des Artistes on West 67th Street in New York and even directed some silent Hollywood films in the 20s.

“Billboard Painters” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Billboard Painters by Penrhyn Stanlaws From – July 9, 1932

"Billboard Painters"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From – July 9, 1932

The next time you see a billboard, it might be good to remember the days when they were painstakingly and skillfully hand-painted, a job taking days. The process must have been fascinating to observers. And what a treat to see this chic lady emerge. There is something about the model…could this be the same profile as the lady with the wide-brimmed hat above?

“Woman in Black” by Penrhyn Stanlaws

Woman in Black by Penrhyn Stanlaws From April 14, 1934

"Woman in Black"
by Penrhyn Stanlaws
From April 14, 1934

This lady is the very picture of urbanity in black, with white gloves and netted hat. From 1934, this is one of the final covers Stanlaws did for the Post.

The artist passed away in 1957. Note his distinctive signature: the capital “S” is resting in a circle of contrasting color.

For reprint information, contact Janie Mahoney at Curtis Publishing: jmahoney@curtispublishing.com. Questions about Post covers or other archive-related issues should be addressed to Diana at d.denny@satevepost.org, or simply by leaving a comment below.

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  • Charles Neumann

    Very interesting. Mr. Stanlaws had quite a style. Interesting to see past fashion styles as well. The painters doing the billboard was perhaps my favorite.

  • Bob McGowan

    Diana, I love Stanlaws covers! I really did not know about him until this feature you did here.

    My favorite is the April 14, 1934. It’s just so perfect in its simplicity (unclutteredness), yet it’s not simple at all. The colors he chose help complete the astonishing look. The March 24, 1928 cover really IS so simple and elegant that I almost can’t get over it!

    I also like the Feb. 20, 1926 cover, but do find the dead animal’s head at the bottom rather shocking and disturbing. I also find the reflection on the woman’s tea cup from the saucer to be rather bizarre in itself. She also looks distressed–to me.

    I do love the green background very much, and it needs to be remembered (especially about the fur) that I’m writing this 85 years later and am not trying to judge what must have been acceptable fashion for the American woman in the ’20s.