The Commercial National Bank and Trust Company of New York - Say it, then have a nap.

Today's 1936 ad features a fantastic piece of art by an uncredited artist. But to get there, we'll have to let the Research and Googling team do their little dance for you. Sigh. Fine, guys. If you must. get it over with.
The Commercial National Bank and trust Company of New York has a frikkin' long name. The cumbersome proportions of the name is probably a badge of honor for a bank. Think of it this way: you need them so bad, they can make you stumble through their name every time you need to talk about your money. Banks aren't like mayonnaise or a car. They don't give a crap how snappy their name sounds. If you want their money, you'll play ball. Also, this bank's name is the result of a long series of mergers with other banks, dating back to 1903. Each time the bank merged with   something, they just tacked the name on the end of their own. Bankers aren't concerned with a slick-sounding name. They want their name to be something you have to carefully step around, like a building.

So what's at 56 Wall Street now? Well, Deutsche Bank and our old pals AIG are in the neighborhood. Whoever's living at number Fifty-Six, looks like they're having some work done on the place. Business must be good.

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Charlie Chaplin once hung from the teeth of this logo.
Anyhoo, it turns out The Commercial of New York can claim the famous J. P. Morgan as one of it's founding fathers. Ain't that something? Fast forward about thirty years and we find The Commercial in the role of helping to rebuild the nation in the ashes of the Great Depression. Hence, this ad. Hence even more, this piece of art.

This illustration could have been anything. Instead, the bank wisely went with the "hard-working, roll up your sleeves and rebuild our nation" angle. Well done. The pencil sketch nature of the piece contributes to the honest,  rough-edged look of the ad. The Commercial wants to help you help the nation start over. It's interesting that the figures are almost totally obscured in heavy cross hatching and shading. Fine detail has been exchanged in favor of heavy, sooty texture. It makes you think of hard labor. All of this helps the piece get businessmen cranked about building stuff... or, more to the point, borrowing the money to pay others to build stuff for you.

This drawing is so nice, Phil Are GO! is proud to present it to you in crazy high resolution, just in case you wanted to download it and have it printed in a frameable size or something. Graphic gift coming your way. This file is 4000 x 3343, so you may need to right click with BOTH your rude fingers to get all 5Mb of it onto your hard drive. Don't say I didn't warn you. You're welcome.

Click for frikkin HUGE!

FAQ: "Why didn't you save the file as grayscale? It could be smaller." Yes, we could have. But the yellowness of the paper, we feel, is part of the history and charm of the artwork. It looks better. Shut up.


Richard Mahler said...

The style of this work is very much in keeping with the trends of the era and particularly what was being done in etchings and stone lithographs by fine artists who joined in the WPA (Works Progress Administration), part of the New Deal. Artists, who have a tough time making a living in the best of times (I know), sought employment in the WPA along with millions of unskilled workers. We mostly think of murals in post offices and courthouses but thousands of limited edition prints, paintings and photographs were done and the best are still collected by individuals (including Yours Truly) and museums. It's nice to see advertising art that is truly fine art like this. Thanks, Phil!

Anonymous said...

Thaks for posting this awesome print. Can't find the link to the 4000x3343 version though. Biggest I can find on this page is 1600x1338, unless I'm missing something.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Right you are. Fixed. The small image at the bottom of the post now links to a frikkin' huge image. Please enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a bother, but the largest one I can find is CommercialNationalBank3.jpg which is 860 kB

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Hm. You're right, Apparently there's a limit to the size of an image Blogger will let you post. It seems to auto-resize oversized images. You can email us and we can send the big file as an attachment.

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