Jessie Willcox Smith

This is the third and final piece of original artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith for the book Dickens’s Children.  Here we have The Runaway Couple, Master Harry Walmers and Miss Norah, resting at the inn on their way to Gretna Green to be married.  Poor little Norah is not used to being away from home and is exhausted from a long coach journey.  Not even a Norfolk biffin is going to cheer her up.

So Boots goes up-stairs to the Angel, and there he finds Master Harry on a e-normous sofa — immense at any time, but looking like the Great Bed of Ware, compared with him — a drying the eyes of Miss Norah with his pocket-hankecher. Their little legs was entirely off the ground, of course, and it really is not possible for Boots to express to me how small them children looked.’  (Christmas Stories – The Holly Tree by Charles Dickens.)

Sadly, the union is not to be and the two go their separate ways.

‘…...I hold with him in two opinions: firstly, that there are not many couples on their way to be married who are half as innocent of guile as those two children; secondly, that it would be a jolly good thing for a great many couples on their way to be married, if they could only be stopped in time, and brought back separately.’

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

I can’t tell what Miss Norah is clutching along with her parasol, but for her wedding trip she also carried ‘a smelling-bottle, a round and a half of cold buttered toast, eight peppermint drops, and  a (doll’s) hair-brush.’

Below is the reproduction from Dickens’s Children, 1912.

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

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The Runaway Couple by Jessie Willcox Smith

Another piece of original artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith today. This is Little Em’ly, childhood friend and first love of David Copperfield; used and abused by Steerforth but eventually living happily ever after (we assume) in Australia.

‘She started from my side, and ran along a jagged timber which protruded from the place we stood upon, and overhung the deep water at some height, without the least defence. The incident is so impressed on my remembrance, that if I were a draughtsman I could draw its form here, I dare say, accurately as it was that day, and little Em’ly springing forward to her destruction (as it appeared to me), with a look that I have never forgotten, directed far out to sea.

The light, bold, fluttering little figure turned and came back safe to me, and I soon laughed at my fears, and at the cry I had uttered; fruitlessly in any case, for there was no one near.’ (David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.)

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

 Again, this illustration is in ‘mixed media’; watercolour with oil and pastel.

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

 Below, the reproduction from Dickens’s Children, 1912

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

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Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

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!

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

 

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

 

Original Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith

 

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Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit on Christmas Day by Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

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.

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

The Seven Ages of Childhood – 1909

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

First the Infant in It’s Mother’s Arms

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

Then the Epicure, With Fine and Greedy Taste for Porridge

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

Then the Scholar, With Eyes Severe and Hair of Formal Cut

'The Seven Ages of Childhood' (1909)

At the Back of the North Wind – 1919

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

“Dear boy!” said his mother; “your father’s the best man in the world.”

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

“Are you ill, dear North Wind?”

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

So Diamond sat down again and took the baby in his lap

'At the Back of the North Wind' (1919)

The Princess and the Goblin – 1920

 

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

She ran for some distance, turned several times, and then began to be afraid

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

There sat his mother by the fire, and in her arms lay the princess fast asleep

Jessie Willcox Smith prints, cards and posters

“Come,” and she still held out her arms

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Jessie Willcox Smith prints