Dickens’s Children is a collection of 10 illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith, featuring the younger characters from the novels of Charles Dickens. The work was commissioned by Scribner’s in 1911; eight of the drawings subsequently printed in their magazine, and the book published in 1912.
Below is the study for Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit on Christmas Day (A Christmas Carol) and the reproduction printed in the book. The original is described as ‘mixed media’ and looks to be watercolour with oil (the snow) and pastel. Mr Cratchit certainly started out with a much gentler face, although the poor boy behind them still looks like his cap is on fire!
Please click on the link below for new Jessie Willcox Smith cards, postcards, notebooks, jigsaw puzzles and of course posters of all shapes and sizes. Thanks for visiting 🙂
A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds
John Gould (1804-1881) was a top bod in English ornithology, curator of the Zoological Society of London and identifier of Darwin’s finches. He also loved hummingbirds.
Although he’d never seen a live hummingbird – he would see his first in 1857 – Gould had a collection of 320 species. These he exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851, garnering public interest and subscribers to his Monograph of the Trochilidæ, which was issued in 25 parts between 1849 and 1861 and subsequently published in 5 volumes.
The illustrations – lithographed by Henry Constantine Richter and William Hart from sketches by Gould – are as delicate and beautifully coloured as the little birds themselves.
There are over 400 plates and I must use them all. However, since I don’t think Zazzle is ready for that many hummingbird products all in one go, I’m going to use one illustration a week.
Cyanomyia franciae – Francia’s Azure-Crown – on Cuphea cordata
From Mr Gould’s description;
“Of the five or six known species of the genus Cyanomyia the C. Franciae may be regarded as the most beautiful….The glittering of the parts referred to is so resplendent, that it is out of the power of any person, I believe, to portray them; hence art and device are in this instance at a nonplus. In the accompanying plate a representation of these feathers is attempted with the ordinary media. If the reader can imagine the neck-plumes to be lit up with the most brilliant and glittering light possible, he may have some faint idea of their loveliness….”
Please click on the poster below to see posters, cards, postcards and notebooks featuring these gorgeous little birds. Thanks for visiting 🙂
I Bought a Book – Part 1
“You BOUGHT a book? Aren’t you supposed to be selling the things?”
My son tuts and leaves me to excitedly open the package. He has a point. Despite our desperate need for space due to piles/boxes/cases of books, I have not been able to resist the urge to grab a bargain.
I’ve always loved Anne Anderson and the soft, flowing, art nouveau style of her watercolours – the Grimm and Andersen fairy tale art being the most famous – but have been unaware of this series of 8 books, published by Nelson in the early 1900’s, each edition containing twelve full page colour illustrations of gorgeousness.
The new addition to my Golden Age collection is The Gillyflower Garden Book. The pictures are wonderful, each showing happy, rosy-cheeked children enjoying various gardening jobs (ha, I must put this on the ‘fantasy’ shelf!) performed throughout the year.
Here they are! Please click on the pics for bigger versions and enjoy.
To find these illustrations and more beautiful art by Anne Anderson on high quality prints, cards, postcards and more, please click below. Thanks for visiting 🙂
Kay (pronounced “kigh”) Rasmus Nielsen (1886-1957) was born in Copenhagen into an artistic family. His mother, Oda Nielsen, was one of the most celebrated actresses of her time, both at the Royal Danish Theater and at the Dagmarteater, where his father was Director.
Kay Nielsen studied art in Paris before moving to England in 1911. His first commission was from Hodder and Stoughton in 1913. The work was ‘In Powder and Crinoline’, a selection of fairy tales by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, later published in America as ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’.
The colour images for ‘In Powder and Crinoline’ – and those of ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon : Old Tales from the North’ a year later – were reproduced by a 4 colour process, instead of the usual 3 used by the other illustrators at the time. The books he illustrated were also distinct from those of his contemporaries. Where Rackham and Dulac chose 19th Century classics, Nielsen chose works that he could make his own. Few artists have attempted a different version of ‘In Powder and Crinoline’.
The first World War interrupted Nielsen’s life and career. His next work, ‘Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales’, was begun in 1912 not but completed until 1924. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ came a year later but neither work rejuvinated his career or the market for illustrated gift books. Five years passed before the publication of ‘Red Magic’, the final title to be illustrated by Nielsen.
Nielsen worked in Copenhagen as a theater producer staging many fantastical productions until he and his partner, Johannes Poulsen, were invited to stage Max Reinhardt’s ‘Everyman’ at the Hollywood Bowl in 1936. After Poulsen’s death, Nielsen and Ulla, his wife since 1926, remained in California where he decided to try the animation business. He applied for work at Walt Disney Productions.
Nielsen’s animations were featured in the “Ave Maria” and “Night on Bald Mountain” sequences of ‘Fantasia’ but the difference in style and intense pressure of the studio system was too much for the 50 year old artist and he was laid off. He returned briefly to start the concept art for ‘The Little Mermaid’ but the film was delayed and not released until almost 50 years later; not in Nielsen’s lifetime.
Kay and Ulla returned to Denmark but found his work no longer in demand. They returned to California where Nielsen received a few commissions for murals but the couple’s final years were spent in poverty, their home and necessities provided by friends. He died in 1957 at age 71. Ulla followed him a year later.
Before her death, Ulla gave an unpublished set of paintings to their friends. Nielsen had started work on Scheherazade’s ‘Arabian Nights’ at the end of the war. These striking illustrations were influenced by Persian miniatures but when the friends tried to place the works in museums, they found none were interested. After many years in the dark, they were published in 1977 as David Larkin’s ‘The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen’, some 55 years after they were created.
In Powder and Crinoline
“The genius of the young artist who has illustrated this book may be left to speak for itself”. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
I have been very busy and am now proud to present my Kay Nielsen products to you. Zazzle have a large variety of items that are now adorned with Nielsen’s fantastic artwork including mousemats, bags, t-shirts, cushions, jigsaws and mugs as well as cards, postcards and prints printed on high quality paper. Enjoy 🙂
Born in Rotterdam Holland in 1889, Henriette Willebeek Le Mair was always destined to be imaginative and artistic. From birth she was immersed in a stimulating and creative environment. Her father would tell stories and create sketches and pictures of the children and her mother was a keen painter and writer of poetry and verse.
Le Mair appreciated the work of Maurice Boutet de Monvel, the most successful illustrator in France at that time. At fifteen years old, her parents took her to see him in Paris to ask his advice. He told her to study anatomy and gave her advice on painting childrens’ portraits. Every year she would return to him to show him her progress. De Monvel also convinced her to study at the Rotterdam Academy from 1909 to 1911. She also studied under a drawing-master in Holland. He required her to draw the model while it danced in circles, first at a slow speed, then at increased speeds.
Her first book “Premieres Rondes Enfantines” was published in France in 1904 when she was just 15 years old. One year later Henriette collaborated with her mother on a series of three books containing her mothers verse with Henriette providing the illustrations. Her most prolific period of work was between the years of 1911 to 1917. Like many other artists of the time, her work also appeared on sets of postcards and children’s china.
In her early twenties she ran an exclusive nursery school in her home and drew from this experience for much of her work, using her pupils as her models just as Cicely Mary Barker did. In 1920 Le Mair married H.P. Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerkenand and adopted the name “Saida”. They both converted to the beliefs of Sufism, a religion of universal brotherhood and love, as taught by Murshid Inayat Khan, and spent their lives helping the poor and other charitable causes. They eventually settled in The Hague, Netherlands.
Her delicate style of painting and the medium of watercolor were ideal for showing children in beautiful surroundings. Her illustrations show painstaking and minute attention to detail. Her drawing style was flat with muted colors and decorative borders. One critic from The Studio wrote; “Since the days of Kate Greenaway I know of no one who has caught so well the spirit of childhood as Miss Willebeek Le Mair.”
Henriette Willebeek Le Mair died on the 15th of March 1966 aged 77.
You can find these wonderful illustrations (and many more) on mugs, bags, cards and postcards by clicking on the image below. Thank you for visiting 🙂
Frank Cheyne Papé lived a long life. Unfortunately we don’t seem to know very much about it. Papé was born in 1878 and later lived in Tunbridge Wells with his wife Agnes.
He appears to have started illustrating at the beginning of the 1900’s and hit the big time with his work in James Branch Cabell’s rather risqué ‘Jurgen’ in 1921.
Papé continued his black and white work with more of cabell’s books and other satires. He died in 1972 aged 94.
Below is an example of Papés magical earlier colour work. The Russian Story Book is a ‘retelling of tales from the song-cycles of Kiev and Novgorod and other early sources’.
The Russian Story Book – 1916
To find these wonderful pictures and more art by Frank Cheyne Papé on high quality cards, postcards and posters, please click below 🙂
Jessie Willcox Smith was an American illustrator whose impressive volume of work includes more than 60 books and almost 200 covers for Good Housekeeping.
Born in Philadelphia in 1863, Jessie didn’t discover her talent until the age of 16. After attending the School of Design for Women and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia she worked for the Ladies’ Home Journal for 5 years. Frustrated by her education so far, Jessie left the job to study under Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute in 1894.
After leaving Drexel, Jessie rented a studio with two fellow students of Pyle, Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green. 14 years later she was working steadily and had enough financial security to have her own house and studio built. The property was surrounded by gardens that her young models would play in while she observed, waiting for the perfect subject to draw. Working in natural light and with her models playing freely around her the results are the wonderfully warm and charming illustrations below.
Remaining unmarried, Jessie Willcox Smith seems to have sacrificed motherhood for her career but her life was certainly not childless. Her drawings show the love and passion she had for children. In later years Jessie chose portrait work and kept her subjects’ attention with fairy tales. In her own words…
“It has been one long joyous road along which troop delightful children, happy children, sad children, thoughtful children, and above all wondering, imaginative children, who give to their charmingly original thoughts a delicious quaintness of expression. I love to paint them all.”
She died in 1935 aged 71.
The Seven Ages of Childhood – 1909
At the Back of the North Wind – 1919
The Princess and the Goblin – 1920
Please take a look at my Jessie Willcox Smith cards, postcards and posters – just click on the poster below – thanks for visiting 🙂
“Her achievement was beauty, a delicate, fantastic beauty, created with brush and pencil. Almost unschooled in art, her life spent in prosaic places of the West and Middle West, she made pictures of haunting loveliness, suggesting Oriental lands she never saw and magical realms no one ever knew except in the dreams of childhood … Perhaps it was the hardships of her own life that gave the young artist’s work its fanciful quality. In the imaginative scenes she set down on paper she must have escaped from the harsh actualities of existence.”
I am starting off this blog with my favourite Golden Age artist, Virginia Frances Sterrett. The above comment from the St Louis Post-Dispatch of July 1931, perfectly sums up her amazing accomplishments despite her short and difficult life.
Virginia Frances Sterrett was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1900 and moved with her family to Missouri and Kansas following the death of her father.
She started to draw as a small child and, encouraged by the success of her drawings in the Kansas State Fair Exhibition, she went to Chicago at 15 to attend high school and study art. She was given a full scholarship. Unfortunately, her mother became ill and Sterrett was forced to leave her studies to support the family. Virginia worked in various art advertising agencies until her own health began to fail. In 1919 at age 19, Sterrett received her first commission. She was also diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Old French Fairy Tales was published in 1920. Consisting of 5 ageless fairy tales by Sophie, la Comtesse de Ségur, the book included 8 magnificent full page colour illustrations and many equally stunning line drawings.
She threw her arms around the neck of Bonne-Biche
Rosalie never left the park, which was surrounded by high walls
They were three months passing through the forest
The fairy must give herself up to the queen and lose her power for eight days
What are you seeking, little one?
The broom was on fire at once, blazed up and burned her hands
Violette consented willingly to pass the night in the forest
I have enjoyed restoring these wonderful illustrations and have some products to share with you. All images are at least 300 ppi to show the incredible detail. Please take a look.
I’ll be visiting Virginia’s life and work again at a later date so please do come back.