Gibson Girl by Charles Dana Gibson (1890s)

Charles Dana Gibson became famous for his graphic drawings of The Gibson Girl during the 1890s.

Gibson felt that the Gibson Girl represented the beauty of American women. “I’ll tell you how I got what you have called the ‘Gibson Girl.’ I saw her on the streets, I saw her at the theatres, I saw her in the churches. I saw her everywhere and doing everything. I saw her idling on Fifth Avenue and at work behind the counters of the stores… [T]he nation made the type. What Zangwill calls the ‘Melting Pot of Races’ has resulted in a certain character; why should it not also have turned out a certain type of face?…There isn’t any ‘Gibson Girl,’ but there are many thousands of American girls, and for that let us all thank God.

Gibson published his illustrations in all the major magazines of the day. They were also found in many novels of the period, and by 1905 or so, the Gibson Girl was a common icon for the New Woman in America.

He was influenced by the beauty of Evelyn Nesbit, an artist’s model and notorious figure of the early century and by Camille Clifford, another artist’s model and noted beauty. He married Irene Langhorne, one of the famous Langhorne beauties. Eventually he became the editor and publisher of Life, where many of his illustrations had appeared.


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