Monday, August 23, 2010

The illustration art of Jessie Willcox Smith, America’s Golden Age children’s illustrator

I recently discovered the very beautiful and enchanting  illustrations of  Jessie Willcox Smith who became celebrated for her unique illustrations art  of the late-Victorian era home life.

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) achieved extensive celebrated success as an illustrator of children's books and popular magazine covers.  Jessie’s  unique cover art  on Good Housekeeping, one of America's most popular magazines brought her popularity and the recognition as a celebrated children’s artist. 

Her exquisite  illustration art graced the covers of Good Housekeeping for more than 15 years from 1913-1932 which are now considered as vintage covers.

                                                                                         jwsmith9           jessie-willcox-smith-good-housekeeping_-september-1926jessie-willcox-smith-little-drops      jessie-willcox-smith-we-give-thanks

Jessie became a celebrated and successful artist of children`s illustration art in the Golden Age area. She charmingly portrayed the unique beauty, innocence and joy of childhood and it`s playfulness during the Victorian area. Her portrayals of mother and child in close and joyful moments together are very touching. I especially love this illustration:


During her creative career Jessie Willcox Smith illustrated over 40 children's books including  A Child's Book of Old Verses (1910), A Child`s Book of stories  (1911) and classics such as Little Women (1915) and Heidi (1922).


Jessie Willcox Smith book cover for The Bed-Time Book, by Helen Whitney, 1907


Jessie Willcox Smith`s book Illustration for A Child's Garden of Verses, 1905  written by Robert Louis Stevenson

For a list of all books with Jessie`s illustration work see: Jessie :

Her unique illustration work shows strong characteristics of  prominent outlines and flat shapes which seem inspired by Art Nouveau and Japanese prints. She worked with charcoal, water colors and oils pastels. Later on in her advanced artist’s life she also became an accomplished portrait artist. Jessie also painted posters and advertisements.

Jessie Willcox Smith`s illustrations and paintings are nowadays universally considered the pinnacle of American children's illustrative art.

For more resources on the life and work of Jessie Willcox Smith visit this great link:

Happy reading!

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