Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Willys-Overland Paintings, Part Three, James Sessions

Part Three of the Willys-Overland Paintings brings us to the best known of the artists who was commissioned by Willys to illustrate a series of ads that were run starting early in the war about 1942. Willys already knew that it was to be able to bank on the jeep for its continued success after its military contract expired and it needed to get the word out to the civilian world as well. What better way to do that than to illustrate the countless stories being heard and newspapers read all over the barber shops, waiting rooms, bars, dinner tables, schools and homes across the country? James M. Sessions was the most prolific of the four artists and consequently seems to be the best known nowadays. His work in the ads appeared everywhere, The Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, Colliers, LIFE, Look and so on. It served to bring to life what people had been reading and hearing about overseas, that the fighting men of the Allies were winning with the help of the mighty jeep. I was planning on giving you all of the Sessions ads today, but decided to break it up a bit more. Today we’ll have the war themed work, next week we’ll have the peace-time home front work and lastly, a special little seen treat of Sessions’ work. I’m not sure if I have the entirety of his work yet. I haven’t Fred Coldwell’s excellent book, “Selling The All-American Wonder” to reference and here are two small thumbnails of work that exists but that I do not yet have.
Ad on top shows an alternate version of the caption that I have and commonly see, “The Sun Never Sets On The Willys Jeep.” Ad on the bottom is a humorous jab by Sessions that I’ve enjoyed but have rarely seen. The caption reads “To Adolph With Best Wishes From Willys-Overland Men.” Click here to view the entire album of his work. Enjoy and have a happy Easter today!

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