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Cover Gallery: A Day at the Beach

Published: July 19, 2017

These beachgoers on the covers of the Post are having the dream summer vacation.

A woman wearing a swimsuit plays in water with a beach ball

Bathing Beauty and Beach Ball
Ellen Pyle
August 7, 1926

The Saturday Evening Post was the first magazine to accept Ellen Pyle’s work after her husband’s death in 1919. “The girl I am most interested in painting is the unaffected natural American type,” Pyle said in her 1928 interview with the Post. Her children often posed as models for Pyle’s paintings, but it was her brilliant use of color and loose, broad brushstroke style that made her one of the Post’s most recognizable female artists.

 

Cover

Woman in Beach Outfit 
Charles A. MacLellan 
August 11, 1934 

Charles A. MacLellan started creating art for the Post during a time when narrative illustrations dominated the covers. His most memorable covers were those with children, typically boys. Often these boys were in some kind of trouble, but it’s the kind of trouble that makes their viewer smile. In his portraits of women, MacLellan nearly always drew them in action and often gave his models a prop, such as this woman and her beach clothes.

 

 

Cover

Card Game at the Beach 
Alex Ross 
August 28, 1943 

This is one of six covers that Alex Ross painted for the Saturday Evening Post. All of his covers featured beautiful women, but this beach scene is the only one that doesn’t focus on a single girl. This 1943 cover does follow Ross’ usual style, however, because the women don’t appear to be over-joyed about their card game.

 

 

Cover

Palefaces
Constantin Alajalov
July 27, 1946

Constanin Alajalov’s painting of the new arrivals picking their green and embarrassed way through the tanned regulars, could have been made on any beach in the country. For that feeling of outstanding pallor is well known from coast to coast, and there is no lotion for it, except that in a few days you can sneer at even later arrivals. Alajalov made his sketches in Palm Beach, Florida, when the Northerners were arriving last winter.

Cover

Surf Swimming
John Falter
August 14, 1948

Artist John Falter’s setting for his surf-bathing cover is Ogunquit, Maine. He made his first sketches while spending the summer in Maine, but didn’t get around to painting until last winter. By that time the lucky lad was in Phoenix, Arizona. The hotter that Arizona sun got, the more fondly the artist thought of Maine’s cool air and cool spray. So he went to work on a picture of Maine as remembered in the Southwest. The pretty girl in the left foreground, just emerging and shaking out her hair, often appears in Falter’s cover paintings. But doesn’t get a model’s pay for her work. She is Margaret Falter. John’s wife.

 

Cover

Baby at the Beach
Austin Briggs
July 23, 1949

Don’t worry about the tiny cover girl who is going down to the awesome sea with her eight-inch ship. Just as Austin Briggs, who was vacationing at Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina, spied the seagoing tot, her mother let out a yelp and splashed into the foam after her. Now there, thought Briggs prophetically, could be my first Post cover.

 

Cover

Couples at the Beach
George Hughes
August 2, 1952

In the winter, people buy sun lamps to get sun, and in the summer they buy beach umbrellas to keep the sun off. Well, have a wonderful time, folks; build your sand castles and your dream castles; let the cool winds and the hot dogs renew you; and don’t even let the annoyment creep in if that boy’s radio prevents your hearing the sweet nothings he whispers to his girl. Now turn the page, before the kids start throwing sand.

 

Cover

Big Pole Little Fish
Richard Sargent
September 1, 1956

Mr. Rodney Fischer, an eminent metropolitan banker who is accustomed to being treated with deep respect, is not being. If that is a sardine he has caught, it may cop the surf-casting championship, for it is indeed of great size. But the boys’ happy faces and the man’s apoplectic face indicate that it is a small sample, or child, of something more ambitious. Mr. F. should set his rod in the gadget Dick Sargent has painted behind him, and lie down and relax his bile; if he goes to sleep, he may catch something decent. While he stands up, his blinding raiment must terrify all the fish who are old enough to think.

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  • The Ellen Pyle cover (top) is perhaps my favorite one of all. It’s just so perfectly, beautifully “20’s” don’t you think?

    I love the simplicity of the 2nd cover, dominated by yellow and the shadow right behind her.

    Alex Ross is a favorite of mine too, partly because he did feature those beautiful women! The lady in the big green and white hat holding the cards looks a lot like the star of ‘Chinatown’ doesn’t she? Of course she would have been about 2 years old in 1943, making that impossible. Still, the resemblance is noteworthy.

    This is one of Alajalov’s best covers. He walked that fine line between realistic and cartoon probably better than any other POST artist. Maybe getting THAT suntanned back then was safer. I’ll stay with the white teeth though!

    Falter’s 1948 cover really showed the ocean in one of the most realistic depictions I’ve seen of it. The swimsuits were more modest than 1946, and more so still in 1952. I really like Richard Sargent’s covers a lot—but this one not so much.

    Mrs. Jones, I’m sorry you lost your husband Russ early this year. I enjoy unplugging from the computer, cell phone and de-stressing from the day for part of the evening with today’s POST. I loved your comments and Ms. Wilborn’s!

  • I grew up with the Saturday Evening Post—-my mother was never without a subscription! She clipped and saved articles that I found yellowed with age long after her death in 1987.

  • Ruth Richert Jones

    After we were married on August 20 1948, we always stopped at the drug store to pick up a copy of the Saturday Evening Post. Then when we were settled in the evening, my husband, Russ, read the continuing story in the “Post.” It was a fun activity we followed religiously!

    My husband recently passed away in February of this year.