When you go to any site that sets out to give you a guideline of who appears on the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, and you come across a description of a person in the crowd that is "A Vargas Girl" or "A Petty Girl", doesn't it piss you off? At all? It does me. Quite a lot. WHAT Vargas girl you can hear me incessantly start repeating. WHEN was it painted. I start banging on the desk. WHO is it of? By this point it's just best to clear the room because I am in a fury that "A Vargas Girl" tells me nothing. And if someone's going to go all that way to tell me this is one of the most important album covers of all time, and each individual Beatle (barring Ringo) picked who was to appear on that cover, then "A Vargas Girl" does not do it for me.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A Vargas Girl. She was the love of Alberto Vargas's life. When she died, he ceased to paint. He said there was a little bit of her, in every Vargas girl he painted. He met her in New York City when she was a Greenwich Village Follies girl. He painted her over and over again.
ANNA MAE CLIFT
She later became Mrs. Alberto Vargas.
Now finding the Petty girls is going to be a bit more difficult. Especially with people putting crap like "A Petty Girl" or "A Vargas Girl". Lucky to get Petty or Vargas even mentioned in the description. But more importantly you should be asking. These are the people The Beatles admired at the time. So why are people like Sir Robert Peel or H.C. Westermann on the cover, when at first glance, their lives seemed to be filled with nothing to do with The Beatles, as opposed to, oh let's say Lewis Carroll, or Aleister Crowley. It's just obvious they are there for a reason, but the reasons said, may not be what you think. With "A Vargas Girl" did The Beatles pick the image because they liked Vargas's work? They knew of Anna Mae Clift? They liked their love story? What is the reason she is on the cover, and that particular image of her.
In hunting her down, one tip off that it may be her was this image from 1923 that Vargas painted. Before he did pin up girls (which actually paid the bills), he was quite the serious artist. This work eventually got him a paying gig doing the Ziegfeld Follies girls, which then led to him doing work for Esquire magazine (replacing George Petty in fact as their main artist.)
It was the hairstyle, colour and pose that said, Anna Mae Clift may be your girl in the other painting. I estimate the other one has to be around the same time, 1923 - 1925. That's an estimate. But remember. It took me 2 hours, with some help from a friend looking with me, to find out WHO a Vargas girl was. I think it's important. If you want to tell me this is one of the most important album covers of all time.
So ... have you asked that internal question yet? I already did 25 minutes ago.
Why are there two artists represented on the cover of Sgt.Pepper that both worked for the same magazine, and is it the artist's work The Beatles admired, or who was painted. It's a question that should have been asked 45 years ago to be honest.
Hunting the Petty Girls. Next mission. Carry on. ;)