James Montgomery Flagg was at one time the highest paid illustrator in America, having painted the famous Uncle Sam "I WANT YOU" poster, (actually a self-portrait in which he added a white beard to avoid using a model). He did use models however, eventually producing thousands and thousands of works for magazine covers and books. He was also judge of beauty, for he called the above woman the most beautiful in the world and used her likeness in many of his illustrations. This is Julia Eliza Bruns, a silent film actress from St. Louis who succumbed, as they say, to fame in a big way. This is the only photograph I can find of her (!) but trust there are mug shots somewhere...you can trace her decline on the web. Arrests, drug addiction, jewel thefts to pay her pusher and finally death of alcoholism in a fleabag Manhattan hotel. She even published articles about her drug addiction. A sad tale, and one which has become cliche...but this is the real deal. If she was in fact the most beautiful woman in the world, it is odd there are no photographs available on the web...and stranger still the press touched her up in this 1924 wire photo describing one of her arrests. Maybe they caught her on a bad day. Two years later she was dead.
Original embellished press photograph, Sept 1925, Collection Jim Linderman