Classic Covers: A Summer Wedding

So many elements go into the making of a wedding: the cake, the music--even the proposal that starts the ball rolling. Decades of Post covers share the work and the joy.

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“Practice Proposal” by Frederic Stanley
Practice Proposal from April 30, 1927
It all begins here. Artist Frederic Stanley (1892-1967) was great with facial expressions. Nice detail on the floral chair upon which sits a photo of his beloved and the ring at the ready. Like Rockwell, Frederic Stanley used locals for his models: Vermont clerks, housewives, schoolchildren. Between 1921 and 1935, Stanley illustrated 17 Post covers. The “Practice Proposal” is from 1927.

“Icing the Wedding Cake” by Stevan Dohanos
Icing the Wedding Cake from June 16, 1945

If you’re studied the art of Stevan Dohanos, you know he was all about realism. For this 1945 cover, he enlisted the help of a baker in Westport, Connecticut, one Mr. Gus Volkening. The star baker produced this ornate delicacy for our artist to paint. What does an artist do with such a prop once the painting is complete? Well, normally, he would just eat it, but this was just too lavish. So Dohanos called the marriage license bureau and found that a certain Private Stall was due to wed his sweetheart, Lucia, so the happy couple was even happier to receive a wedding cake so beautiful it appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

“Wedding March” by Norman Rockwell

Wedding March from June 23, 1928

One of Norman Rockwell’s most ubiquitous models, James K. Van Brundt makes a charming organist in this 1928 cover. “The day he showed up at my studio,” said the artist, “was one of the luckiest days of my life. ’James K. Van Brunt, sir,’ he said saluting me and bowing all at once. ‘Five feet two inches tall, sir. The exact height of Napoleon Bonaparte.’” Rockwell adored that mustache. “Eight full inches wide from tip to tip,” the little man boasted. “The ladies, Sir, Make much of it.” Rockwell painted him as a hobo, a colonial sign painter, a sentimental cowboy listening to old records and even as gossiping old maids.

“Patient Groom” by E.M. Jackson
Patient Groom from April 21, 1928

It’s nice to see the emphasis on the handsome groom in this 1928 cover by E.M. Jackson. Jackson’s nearly 50 Saturday Evening Post covers showed influences from prominent artists of the time. Some of his work was very much like that of Norman Rockwell, and several of his covers, like our groom here, resembled the lavish and elegant detail of J.C. Leyendecker.

“There Goes the Bride” by Alan Foster

There Goes the Bride from October 12,1929

Of the dozens of covers depicting weddings, this has to be the most unusual. The focus is on the delighted faces of the guests. The bride, except for a bit of her train, is left to the imagination of the viewer, but from the expressions of the observers here, she must be beautiful indeed. And what of the groom? We see only a shoe with spat, and a bit of striped pants leg.

The artist, Alan Foster, did over 30 light-hearted Post covers, several of which we will see in an upcoming feature, “The Fun Covers of Alan Foster.”

“Wedding Reception” by Ben Kimberly Prins

 Wedding Reception from June 9, 1962

One can only imagine the work that went into an illustration like this by Holland-born artist Ben Prins (1902-1980). The locale was a Vermont country club, and the guests were “borrowed” from a local wedding. All were happy to cooperate with the artist, and by the time this cover appeared on newsstands, the bride and groom were back to real life; he working in a bank and she as an assistant librarian.

Alas, this is one of the last covers painted by our wonderful stable of illustrators, as photographs of everyone from models to world leaders took over in the 60s.

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  1. ‘Practice Proposal’ is a very neat cover. It has a Leyendecker look, mainly in the left and right jacket “folds”, but has a less chisled look otherwise. Stanley is a great artist I just learned about here.

    ‘Icing on the Wedding Cake’. I love Dohanos’ covers, and this is one of his best. The background on how this cake wound up as a REAL wedding cake for a real World War II couple is fascinating. The only thing I don’t like about some of the covers in this period are the cover blurb squares. With no “open space” I can see the dilemma they had with where to put ANY words!

    ‘Wedding March’ is great. I thought Van Brundt looked familiar. It’s a different facial angle, but I recognized him from the Rockwell cover of the cowboy listening to the old gramophone.

    ‘Patient Groom’ also has a strong Leyendecker influence in the elegant background as you stated. Neat cover.

    ‘There Goes the Bride’ really IS unusual. I’m not familiar with Foster, and I’m looking forward to ‘The Fun Covers of Alan Foster’.

    ‘Wedding Reception’. I love Ben Prins’ covers. This one’s one of my favorites. The majority of ’62 covers were still traditionally POST, but there were a handful of photo covers that (I suppose) helped ease the readers into the 1963-’68 time period.


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