In January 1946, Time magazine ran the results of a survey of 200 U.S. artists to find out how much they were earning. The average came out to a whopping $1,154 a year, or $14,746 in 2013 dollars.
These are not the kinds of averages on all artists reported by, for example, the U.S. government in its annual surveys. Time only polled what it categorized as “topflight” artists. At the same time, one should take any figures pertaining to 1945 with a grain of salt: World War II had just ended and the militarized economy was just beginning to shift back to something more normal.