Enoch Bolles was born March 3, 1883 in Boardman, Florida. His father was Enoch Bolles, Jr., a chemist in the perfume industry, and his mother, Catherine Keep, came from a family that owned orchards.
The artist's grandfather was also named Enoch Bolles, and lived in Newark, NJ. By 1894,the artist's father and grandfather had both died unexpectedly, so the family moved to Newark, NJ, where the artist met Clara Kaufman, who shared his interest in art. They wed in 1903 and raised eight children in homes in NYC, Tappan, NY, and then settled in Harrington, NJ.
Enoch Bolles studied at National Academy of Design, as well as night classes at the Art Student's League.
His first magazine assignments appeared in 1914 on the covers of joke books, such as Judge and Puck.
He went on to establish a leading reputation for his distinctive cover paintings for spicy magazines, such as Film Fun, Stolen Sweets, Gay Book, Titter, Tattle Tales, Snappy Stories, Bedtime Stories, Breezy Stories, Pep, Gay Parisienne, and New York Nights.
Besides pin up work, Bolles was also a versatile illustrator who created advertising for many products, including Sun-Maid Raisins, Vicks VapoRub, and Zippo lighters.
Due to overwork and malnutrition, Bolles suffered a mental collapse in August 1938, which ended his professional career. When his paranoid condition failed to improve, Bolles entered a New Jersey mental institution, Greystone Hospital, where he remained for most of his life. He eventually recovered enough to paint magnificent landscapes and portraits of hospital workers, family and friends. He had access to a small art studio in the hospital, from which he even painted several pin-up magazine covers that were sold and published during the 1940s.
Enoch Bolles was finally discharged from Greystone Hospital in 1969 and spent the last seven years of his life at his family home in NJ, where he died of heart failure at age 93 on March 16, 1976.
© David Saunders 2009