To measure the contribution of George Quaintance one need only look at his depictions of gorgeous men in familiar and, yet, almost too beautiful surroundings. Men engaged in activities that cause them to look more resolutely masculine; perfect poses of perfect men.
You can draw a direct line from the style of Quaintance to the execution of masculine pulchritude portrayed by Tom of Finland. The latter would not exist without the former. Look at how Quaintance's men carry themselves, at how they are in their handsome demeanor and you see the template for what Tom would later expand upon. Quintance's figures suggest sex more than actively participate in it. Nothing so low or vulgar was to be presented in the 40's in any halfway public art, let alone homo-centric art.
When Tom came along the doors of prudence were bashed in. He determined that sex could be the crowning glory of his art and his men were always either eagerly engaged in it outright or happily prepping for it. Seduction was the very basis for his art both in the characters attitudes towards each other and how the viewer's eye is seduced by form and content. Quaintance's palpable suggestion became Tom's overt display.
Compare and Contrast: Quaintance and Tom do sailors:
But Quaintance is more of a master illustrator in the storytelling tradition of predecesors like Howard Pyle and N. C. Wyeth. There is mystery and an air of expectation in his work. Through the use of color and light, two areas, because of printing expenses and considerations, Tom did not always venture into, Quaintance gives substance to his images. Quaintance had pretensions of being accepted as a real artist. I am not sure that Tom even cared to enter that arena. Quaintance was a painter, while Tom drew his figures for the most part.
Still, we men who appreciate the art of men appreciating other men, owe a tremendous debt to trailblazers such as George Quaintance, Paul Cadmus, and, to a lesser degree, figures such as, Harry Bush. (And, of course, Tom of Finland, who is discussed elsewhere on this blog.)
And so, a small tribute to the wonderfully rich homoerotic art of Mr. George Quaintance.