C. COLES PHILLIPS (1880 – 1927)

“Illustrating, whether of the commercial or highbrow kind, is profitable only when you do your best all the time.” - Coles Phillips

Broken Pearl Necklace
Broken Pearl Necklace

C. Coles Phillips painted 10 covers for The Saturday Evening Post from 1920-1923. His first spark of interest in illustrating began with a caricature he rendered of his boss at American Radiator Company, who, after viewing the sketch, questioned why Phillips was selling radiators instead of artwork. Besides a brief time spent in art school and weekly art classes at the grade school level, Phillips was a self-taught artist who put his devotion, time and passion into each painting. His famous pretty ladies graced the covers of The Post and many other magazines of the period. After perfecting the flawless elegance and captivating emotions of women, he took a chance with his ingenious fade-a-way technique. By excluding shadows and outlines, Phillips encouraged the viewer to use his or her imagination. His figures blended into the background, leaving focus for the heads, hands and feet of the women. His novel technique and striking design qualities allowed for single color or two color covers in a time when that was not the norm. This perfect confluence of precise design, vivid colors, sophisticated style and elegance of C. Coles Phillips’ illustrations yielded a superb “sophisticated lady” collection.

In April 1928, after his death, The Saturday Evening Post published a memoir written by Phillips’ widow, Teresa Hyde Phillips. In that memoir, Teresa wrote, “His arrangements of the masses, small and large, were to him much more exciting than the color or the idea, or whether the girl was pretty. Pure design, in other words, was his real love, and the fact that he made his reputation as a painter of pretty girls was more an accident than anything else.”