Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Over at A Case of Do or Die, we recently released a series of posters which depict Steampunk and Dieselpunk versions of Rosie the Riveter.

At least, we thought she was Rosie the Riveter.

During our research into Rosie the Riveter, we discovered that the woman gracing the J. Howard Miller poster – the one that proclaims “We Can Do It!” – isn’t actually Rosie the Riveter, she is simply referred to as We Can Do It!

The term ‘Rosie the Riveter’ was actually coined after the We Can Do It! poster was published. Rosie the Riveter has her origins in the title of a song by Evans and Loeb. This song, about a woman who works hard for the U.S. war effort, was released months after the poster first appeared, but it seems that history has conflated the iconic poster with the name Rosie the Riveter.

The real image for Rosie the Riveter was painted by none other than Norman Rockwell. He depicted Rosie eating lunch with her riveting gun in her lap, her arms perched upon her lunchbox (marked ‘Rosie’) and her loafered feet resting atop a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Her pose is modeled after Michelangelo’s depiction of Isaiah in the fresco for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Whatever their origins, Miller’s We Can Do It and Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter remain unmistakable (though, perhaps, often confused) icons of the U.S. during WW2; and both stand as testaments to the strength of women and their capability to rise to any challenges history throws at them.

-- Daniel Ferrante

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Comment by Pilsner Panther on February 13, 2011 at 7:27am

I have some knowledge of the old-school magazine illustrators, and it seems that they grabbed anything that they found to be useful, visually. A talented draftsman like Norman Rockwell certainly knew the work of Michelangelo, because art training in those days consisted largely of studying the works of the Old Masters, and copying them. This method of teaching led to a certain amount of plagiarism, of course— as described (and satirized) by the late William Gaddis in his epic novel, "The Recognitions" (published in 1955).


I'll award one "free art scholarship" to anyone who can get all the way through this book. It's a tough read, but it has many great scenes in it... and in some ways, nothing has changed since then.


Comment by David Mark Brown on February 12, 2011 at 5:38pm
Wow. I had heard that the iconic image was not "Rosie," but I had no idea that Rockwell's painting/pose was based on Michelangelo's work. Interesting.
Comment by Larry on February 12, 2011 at 2:50pm

Thanks for posting this Daniel. I didn't know this.


Thanks Miss gallowglass for remembering Geraldine Doyle.


Love the painting Pilsner! :)

Comment by Pilsner Panther on February 12, 2011 at 2:39am

I'm sure that some fans of Renaissance painting are going to hate me for this... not to mention the Norman Rockwell fans. But I couldn't resist:


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