Definition of Vintage Art

Image by, courtesy of Martin Beek

The broad definition of vintage art is generally commercial artwork created from the 19th through the mid-20th century. Vintage art is not to be confused to the works of painters using watercolors and oils on canvas.


Vintage art includes 19th century postcards, prewar movie posters, orange crate labels, World War II-era aircraft nose art, Victorian-era signs and cards, Depression-era Works Progress Administration art and propaganda posters, according to

Magazine Covers

A prime example of vintage art is the work of illustrator Norman Rockwell’s magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

Cultural Context

Vintage art reflects the artist’s interpretation of a specific era. The Gibson Girl, for example, exemplified Charles Gibson’s ideal of the feminine beauty in the context of late 19th century North America.

Furniture Art

The Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements of the early 20th century inspired streamlined and industrial-style architecture, murals and furniture that are considered works of vintage art.

Propaganda Art

Propaganda posters in a political context extolling the virtues of American patriotism, the Cold War Soviet industrial work ethic and even fascism are vintage art.


Original vintage poster art is expensive, but numerous companies sell reproductions at a fraction of the cost.


About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Image by, courtesy of Martin Beek