Monday, May 9, 2011

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Jessie Wilcox Smith

For Christmas, someone gave me a reprinted edition of Mother Goose rhymes featuring the brilliant illustrations of Jessie Wilcox Smith. A premiere children's artist and illustrator in the 1800's, Smith created scenes of charm, color, and simply brilliant detail for some of literature's most famous stories. From fairy tales to magazine covers, her career produced hundreds of extraordinary designs.

My first -- and favorite -- brush with her work was Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. The 1940's and 1920's edition are still hanging about in the house, complete with the unforgettable illustrations for "The Land of Counterpane" and "Bed by Day" among others. Smith's pen sketched out black and white illustrations and bold color images for The Water Babies, At the Back of the North Wind, Heidi, as well as classic fairy stories such as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood.

Like Parrish, Wyeth, and other celebrated illustrators, her work was varied in terms of design and publishing source -- some wonderful examples are included in the Little Big Book illustrated series today.

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