Friday, July 24, 2009

William A. Smith's Coke Ads

You may recall seeing the Coke ad below in a previous post on William A. Smith, but that ad wasn't a one-shot job for the accomplished painter...

Smith's daughter, Kim, sent a scan of this great piece below, along with an amusing anecdote about what must surely have been one of her earliest professional modeling assignments:

"I was the model," wrote Kim, "along with my favorite stuffed animal (I still have it, and it is probably a poodle) whom I nevertheless called Lambsey-Dysey. After "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambsey dysey".

"The third model was a man on whom I had a huge crush, very handsome, named Bob I-can't-remember-his-last-name-but-will. He played a doctor, and I am about 3 1/2 years old. The version of the ad I have is in Spanish, though it was also probably in English somewhere here. My hair color, and Lambsey-Dysey's was changed for the painting to brunette!"

Recently a third William A. Smith Coke ad surfaced... this time in the form of a piece of original art up for sale at Heritage Auctions.

I sent a note around to the Smith family members alerting them to the sale. Kathlin Smith was the first to reply. She identified her older brother Rick as having posed for the role of the usher standing at far-right of frame in the middle distance. "It’s actually amazing how much he looks like a young version of my father," wrote Kathlin.

When I asked Rick Smith if he recalled anything about posing for this ad he replied, "It's me alright but I was an ADHD kid, hated keeping still for any length of time so I may have repressed that particular adventure."

Rick adds, "Thanks for your interest in dad's work. I still think he was vastly underrated/underappreciated/under-recognized."

* This post was published simultaneously on the William A. Smith blog

* Thanks to Charlie Allen for providing the top scan, Kim Smith for providing the middle scan, and Heritage Auctions for allowing me to use the bottom scan.

* My William A. Smith Flickr set


  1. By the way, it's "...little lambs eat ivy." Sorry. However, that makes "dysey" even cuter.

  2. I may be wrong but it feels the girls head is too small, or the doc is too big. Something doesn't feel right with the scale.

    Also in the oriental picture, no ones seems to be looking at anyone directly. The eye lines feel off.

    Maybe it was back when Coke was the 'pause that refreshes' and still contained cocaine

  3. db; I think we'll have to give three year old Kim some leeway on her interpretation of the song's lyrics. And I agree, it does make it even cuter.

    Joel; Not that William A. Smith needs me to come to his defense, but what the heck, I will anyway.

    The heads seem to fit with Andrew Loomis' scale of relative proportion as described on this page from his book, "Figure Drawing for All Its Worth":

    As for the people not looking at each other, if you click on the image and go to the larger version it should become apparent that they are all admiring the small figurine/sculpture the one man is holding up. Their sightlines look pretty good to me in that regard.

    Thanks both of you for your comments! :^)

  4. "they are all admiring the small figurine/sculpture the one man is holding up"
    ...I see it the same way as Leif. Even the background Dragon is looking and admiring.

    I just love this ad.

  5. Ahh, got it. Guess I was the only one not looking at the dragon.


  6. I love Coca Cola vintage ads. I have some posters of the ads. I'm looking for Coca Cola and Pepsi vintage t-shirts. I think they look cool. Too bad they are very rare.