Nose Art; A Wonderful Hand Painted c.1950s Aeronautical Artwork Nose Cone Panel of a Scantily Clad Lady; 'Miss Virginia'


Origin: American
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1940-60
Width: 36.5 inches
Height: 43 inches
Depth: 14 inches (at maximum)

The panel with semi-naked lady with blushed rose cheeks, ruby red lips and nails, fiery red flowing hair and wearing only underwear, a lavender shawl and stockings with suspenders depicted on a corded phone on a racing green ground and ‘Miss Virginia’ in sunshine yellow script. To the reverse we can see the mechanics of the panel itself in red and white with ten further separate riveted panels. The panel is possibly from a Lockheed P-38 Lightning plane which was a World War II American fighter aircraft.

In very good overall condition, with only some minor scuffs to the paintwork, whilst there is a later hanging wire attached to allow the panel to hang in landscape position for display.

Many imaginative service personnel, or lust-ridden pilots (!), painted their aircraft with gaudy images on the sinuous curve of their nose cone; with curve being the operative word. Nose art is largely a military tradition, though also a form of folk art and while it began for practical reasons of identifying friendly units, the practice evolved to express the individuality often constrained by the uniformity of the military, 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. The appeal, in part, came from nose art not being officially approved, even when the regulations against it were not enforced. Cartoons and pinups, as we see here, were most popular among American artists. The British Ministry of Defence banned the use of pin-up women in nose art on Royal Air Force aircraft in 2007, as commanders decided the images (many containing naked women), were inappropriate and potentially offensive to female personnel, although there were no documented complaints.

Historically and visually inspiring, and rarely appearing for sale, Miss Virginia is a wonderfully entertaining segment of aeronautical pin-up themed decorative graffiti artwork. Goodness, gracious, great balls o’fire!