Thursday, February 9, 2012
"His Master's Voice"
Recognize this bit of imagery? More popularly associated with the old RCA ads, "His Master's Voice" was actually an original painting from English artist, Francis Barraud, in 1899. The Curious George immortalized in "His Master's Voice" is "Nipper", a fox terrier Barraud had inherited from his deceased brother Mark. Along with the dog, Francis also inherited a cylinder phonograph and a few recording his brother, Mark, had left behind.
As it turned out, those recordings preserved not only his late brother's last words but also his voice as evident by Nipper's piqued interest in the familiar sound emanating from the phonograph horn. Nipper's unabashed reaction to his master's voice piping from the phonograph didn't escape Francis Barraud's attention either and so he committed the scene to canvas. He would later copyright the original painting under the title of "Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph".
After shopping the painting around to various phonograph companies, Barraud would not find a buyer for his work until 1900. The Gramophone Company purchased the rights to Barraud's work under the condition that he modify the image to feature one of their products instead. "His Master's Voice" went from a print ad to the name of a particular radio model to becoming the trademark for the Gramophone Company, which would later become RCA. Embedded below is an ad that was run in Australia.
On a side note, the "HMV" model radio was never actually sold in the States; however, the image was internationally used as a watermark to this day.