The Children’s Corner by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

The Doves’ Dinner-Time

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.

Little Songs of Long Ago by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

See-Saw, Marjorie Daw

The Children’s Corner by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

The Invalid’s Birthday

Little Songs of Long Ago by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

Curly Locks

Little Songs of Long Ago by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

London Bridge is Broken Down

The Children’s Corner by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

Buying Hats

Little Songs of Long Ago by Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

There Came to My Window

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    5 Responses to Henriette Willebeek Le Mair

    • Wendy Fairman says:

      I have two original oversized (20×31″approx.) Henriette Willebeek LeMair Lithographs. They were printed in Germany by the Franz Hanfstaengl Co in 1914, stamped on the back of the watermarked paper. One is Little Red Riding Hood the other The Sleeping Beauty. They are tryptics. I am trying to acess thier value and am having a difficult time. Their is some wear and tear, I’m assuming a little fading, but they are still extremely lovely. Can anyone help me? Thank you!


    • jen says:

      I think any auction house would help – they give free appraisals, mostly just from a few photos. Good luck!

    • Gillian POllock says:

      I have a book illustrated by Henriette called Schumann Album of Children’s Pieces. Published by Augener Ltd London.
      My mother had it around 1919 when she learned the piano and she gave it to me some years ago.
      There is no date of publication and I would be interested to know this and any other info.

      • jen says:

        Hello, I just bought a tatty copy of this book myself. Mine has no copyright date either but an inscription is dated 1913, which matches the first edition date stated on Worldcat. There were no later editions until the 1980’s so yours will be the same date. US and UK editions were issued in the same year, but I don’t know which was first.
        The collection is a cut down version of Schumann’s ‘Album für die Jugend’, composed in 1848 for his 3 daughters and printed in 1849. Youtube has videos of children playing these pieces amazingly well; they sound quite difficult to me!
        Thanks for visiting.

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