Can you identify this artist?
I hope you can shed some light on this mystery. I know very little about MAD Magazine but since I have found this amazing piece of MAD artwork I'm learning.
I found a cardboard cylinder while cleaning out my grandparents' house. In it contained an impressive drawing of three beautiful woman (a red head, brunette and blonde) kissing Alfred. It is a sketch done in paints? Chalk? and pencil. It is done in vellum. The caption on the top reads "What ~ Me Worry (Hah!)." The interesting thing is there is partial nudity (one woman's breast is exposed).
It is signed "MILLER."
This looks to have been done by a professional because the work is magnificent!
I don't know how my grandfather acquired this and he is dead now. It must have been of some value since it was hidden in a safe place. My grandfather was not a MAD fan but he owned a monument business (maybe this was payment from a customer?). I can scan the picture for you and send it. Please let me know if any of this makes sense.
Click for a larger, uncensored view,
but please ask your Mom
or Janet Jackson first!
Site-watcher Randy has some opinions and helpful advice for Lauren:
I can't say I can identify the artist, but I might have a suggestion
that Lauren could follow up on to find out more about it. She
mentioned in her letter that her grandfather was in the monument
business. She could see if her grandfather was a member of any
professional organizations or things like the Elks Club or Lions Club
and went to conventions.
It's a possibility that the artist might have been a speaker or
attendee at one of the conventions her grandfather went to and he
either won or was awarded the artwork. Seeing the risque nature of
the piece, it would remind me of something given away as a gift in
that kind of context, especially if it were a professional convention
or organization that was pretty much exclusively men.
I might also talk with a professional art appraiser or conservator -
the medium is quite fragile and she might want to get it professional
framed to preserve it.
I think the "Alfred E Newman" face may be throwing off ferreting out
the source of the drawing. Since the face has been commonly seen
since at least the late 19th century in parodies and cartoons, I'm
wondering if the artist isn't associated with "Mad" and if the
drawing might pre-date the magazine or would have been done during
it's early period.
The style of the female figures looks like the kind of cartoon
renderings of female figures that might have been seen in the 1940's
or 50's. Having a blonde, a brunette and a redhead reminds me of one
of Marilyn Monroe's popular pictures, "How to Marry a
Millionaire" (1953), that featured her along with Lauren Bacall and
Betty Grable - perhaps the artwork was inspired by the triad of
beauties in that popular film? The figure in the upper left
certainly looks like a Monroe takeoff.
I'd look for animators and cartoon artists working during this period
who have the last name Miller. For example, there was a John Parr
(J.P.) Miller who was a prominent artist for Walt Disney pictures and
who was a children's book illustrator who joined the studio in 1934
and worked on many of Disney's classic features and the Golden Books
licensed by the company. There are probably others that would be
more or less well known that worked for Warner Brothers or MGM or
that were illustrators for comics or magazines of the period.
The key would be finding examples of the artists's works and
comparing the signatures and overall styles. An appraiser or
historian of animation and cartoon history might be able to shed some
more light on it. With a little digging, Lauren might discover that
her grandfather belonged to the same organization as the artist or
that the artist lived in or had relatives in a town where her
Of course, it could just be a piece by a very talented local artist.
Even as folk art, it's a wonderful bit of artwork worthy of preserving.
An interesting little mystery and a good candidate for "Antiques
Roadshow" the next time they come to Lauren's town.