Dangerous Doris by Ralph Jellett
Oil on Board
Frame Size 30.875 ins (785 mm) by 25 ins (635 mm)
Image Size 23.375 ins (595 mm) by 19.5 ins (495 mm)
While begun for practical reasons of identifying friendly units. The practice evolved to express the individuality and to evoke memories of home and peacetime life. And as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the probability of death.
Because of its individual and unofficial nature, it is considered folk art, inseparable from work as well as representative of a group. It can also be compared to sophisticated graffiti. In both cases, the artist is often anonymous, and the art itself is ephemeral. In addition, it relies on materials immediately available.
Nose art is largely a military tradition, but civilian airliners operated by the Virgin Group feature “Virgin Girls” on the nose as part of their livery. In a broad sense, the tail art of several airlines such as the Eskimo of Alaska Airlines can be called “nose art”, as are the tail markings of present-day U.S. Navy squadrons. There were exceptions, including the VIII Bomber Command, 301st Bomb Group B-17F “Whizzer”, which had its girl-riding-a-bomb on the dorsal fin
Source material for American nose art was varied, ranging from pinups such as Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable and cartoon characters such as Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Popeye to patriotic characters (Yankee Doodle) and fictional heroes (Sam Spade). Lucky symbols such as dice and playing cards also inspired nose art, along with references to mortality such as the Grim Reaper. Cartoons and pinups were most popular among American artists, but other works included animals, nicknames, hometowns, and popular song and movie titles. Some nose art and slogans imposed contempt to the enemy, especially to enemy leaders.