Like a Moth, It Works in the Dark

Paula Petrik, Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University


Charles Dana Gibson began his career as an illustrator, contributing to most of the major magazines of the day. Although some historians have suggested that his "Gibson girls" resemble women in the late stages of tuberculosis with their slender waists and luminous eyes, his lithe, dreamy female figures set the standard for feminine beauty at the beginning of the twentieth century. After World War I, however, Gibson devoted more of his art to political subjects. After you have looked at the image, refresh your memory of the political developments in the 1920s, especially discussions of lynchings.

Updated | April 2004

Image of Gibson's political cartoon

Click the image above to view a larger version.