Friday, February 25, 2011

Couple in a Pool by John LaGatta

Couple in a pool (c. 1950)

Looking at the pictures of Sandy Robertson, and her man in the pool from Penthouse, Triple P was reminded of a painting by John LaGatta which he has now located amongst the approximately 1 million picture files he has in his computer.  The woman floats on the surface of the water in a brief bikini whilst the man emerges from the depths like a watery predator for a snatched kiss.  It is a wonderfully delicate yet erotic picture from one of America's finest illustrators.

When it came to portraying the female body, LaGatta was an absolute master and women were very much his favourite subject.  Although he did some nudes, as most of his illustrations were for womens' magazines his figures were invariably dressed. 

However, he had the amazing ability to make even his dressed women look undressed.  He also managed to imbue an immense amount of sexual charge into his pictures of men and women.  The picture of the three women and the man, above, just oozes sex.

Even when he illustrated women on their own, he used such a sensuous line that looking at the pictures today you start to wonder if the women are having a relationship with each other, as in this cover picture for The Saturday Evening Post.

Illustration for The Saturday Evening Post (1930)

LaGatta was born in Naples, Italy in 1894 and after his family moved to New York studied art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts, having first started off in his father's jewellery business. 

Bathing Beauties (1933)

He first came to prominence during the period of the First World War going on to do illustrations for the likes of  Life, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan together with advertising work. 

Illustration for "No Scarlet Woman" American magazine 1940

In 1916 he joined the Amsden commercial studio and never looked back.  Unlike many later illustrators, who worked from photographs, LaGatta always used models who he carefully selected himself.

Golden Locks (1933)

LaGatta's family, although having aristocratic lineage, were very poor and later in life, as a successful illustrator, Lagatta very much appreciated the finer things in life.  At the beginning of World War 2, LaGatta moved to California and taught at the Art Center School in Los Angeles.  He died in 1977.

John LaGatta

LaGatta never did any explicit erotic works, although some of his advertising nudes were considered very racy at the time, but then he managed to get more sex appeal into his clothed couples than most so called erotic artists did in their naked ones.


  1. I didn't know of this man or his work. It's lovely. Thanks.