The Gibson Girl Goes To The Race

In 1894 (I am not sure which month), William A. Brooks published an article, “The Harvard and Yale Boat-Race: Observations of a Harvard Man” i Harper’s New Monthly Review. As a medical student at Harvard, Brooks had rowed against Yale in three races on the Thames River in New London; once in the winning boat (in 1885) and twice in the losing boat (in 1886-1887). For certain, this made Brooks very suitable to write an article about the training and racing on the Thames. However, what is really interesting with this article is the five illustrations that came with it. They are all by Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), whose pen-and-ink sketches could be found in the major New York publications during this period.

In the time of Gibson’s illustrations for Brooks’s article, he had already become famous for his creation of the ‘Gibson Girls’ – an ideal of the young beautiful American woman. It is believed that it was Gibson’s wife, Irene Langhorne and her lovely sisters that were models for Gibson’s Girls. Irene was sister to the famous Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat as a Member of the British Parliament.

Gibson’s illustration on top is called ‘The Coach’, while the illustration of the Gibson girl happily walking between the two Yale and Harvard rivals is called ‘Going to the Race’.

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