Prehistoric man obviously had some degree of fascination with the female form, judging by Paleolithic sculptures of well endowed women. Anthropologists are unsure if they were symbols of fertility or erotic art passed around by horney hunters. These Venuses served a need or the common good somehow, even if they don't follow our definition of pin-up... Ancient Greeks and Romans also were unashamed by modern standards in acceptance of the nude figure.
Early American influences in magazine and print illustration include Howard Pyle (1853-1911), his Brandywine school and students such as N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Harvey Dunn (1884-1952), Frank Schoonover (1877-1972) and Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). Dean Cornwell (1892-1960), John La Gatta (1894 - 1976) and Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) were also major forces in advertising illustration. Provocative images, particularly used in adds, were on the cutting edge between sex and commerce. As buying stuff increased after World War II, the icon of a hot saleswoman was particularly tempting for advertising campaigns. Many “pin ups” were photos of well-known girls who were considered sex symbols. One of the most famous early pin-up ladies was Betty Grable. Her poster was plastered all over the walls of GIs during World War II. Other types of pin-ups were drawings and paintings, often idealizing versions of what were thought particularly beautiful women.