Sunday, March 1, 2015

Molly's Turn: Grandpa Rea Irvin

My Grandfather Rea Irvin, artist extrodinare:

Rea Irvin
(photo copyright Molly Rea)

With the passing of February, the month of the annual anniversary of the New Yorker magazine, I realized I'd like to do a nod of honor towards my Grandfather Rea (pronounced "Ray") Irvin.  He created the iconic image of Eustace Tilly which has been used in some form or other, since the first cover  of The New Yorker in February of 1925. Rea Irvin was an incredible artist with the ability to create a piece of work in any style he chose. He was the art director for Life Magazine (at the time a humor magazine) until 1924 at which time Harold Ross convinced him to come on board with a crazy idea he had for a sophisticated humor and literary magazine called the New Yorker. If you ever have a chance to take a look at the book The Complete Book of Covers from the New Yorker 1925 - 1989, you may be as awed as I was,  at the amount of work he produced for the New Yorker. Of course he was the acting art editor so he did have a little control over what was used.

The orginal cover, February 21, 1925

Rea Irvin
Harold Ross
My grandfather and Harold Ross had a unique realtionship, not only did Ross agree to give Rea the latitude to do as he wished with art and humor, he also became a very close family friend, spending time with the family at their Newtown home.

He was very impotant to my mother Virginia Irvin, his playful nature was something my mother as a young child, loved. Ross was able to play with Virginia in a way her father, who was older and not accustom to children, was not. According to my mother Ross had a very goofy side to him that he shared with her.

Here are images of Rea Irvin's artwork I was able to cull from the web: 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Molly,

    I am a filmmaker seeking permissions to use one or two of your grandfather's New Yorker drawings. I am making a documentary about fellow New Yorker James Stevenson. I feel that Rea hasn't had enough time in the limelight and would like to feature his work (even if it is for 10 seconds!) in my film. What is the best way to connect with you? What a talented and extraordinary man Rea was. Please feel free to contact me on: Thank you!