Women Illustrators and Creative Ancestry

Added on by Doug Dowd.

This project was launched about 18 months ago, and has advanced incrementally since. By “this project” I mean the targeted mining of the tear sheet files in the Walt Reed Illustration Archive at the Modern Graphic History Library (MGHL) at Washington University in St. Louis. That seemingly infinite resource can be surveyed many ways. In this case, we went looking for women illustrators— some famed, many obscure.

Since 2009 I have (intermittently) taught a course called Commercial Modernism at Wash U, and each time I have done so I’ve sought to explore the role of women as subjects, consumers and producers of illustrated images in the United States from 1890 through 1960, with particular emphasis on the first several decades of that stretch. I have done so especially because so many of the undergraduate students in our program are (and long have been) women. 

The very title of this blog, captured in the banner above—Notables: American Illustration circa 1900-1970–betrays discomfort with canonical approaches to writing cultural history. Not the greatest American illustrators; just notable ones. The criteria for notability are variable. 

A reluctance to celebrate is defensible. Illustration history has often reproduced the worst aspects of naively practiced art history, by creating implicit lists of “the greatest.” A long time ago, Linda Nochlin demonstrated in “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971) the cultural conditions which put “greatness” in play. Access to training, etc., long circumscribed the prospects of many women artists. Yes. But I am uninterested in “greatness” altogether. It turns cultural history into a version of ESPN. Who was the best second baseman of all time, Rogers Hornsby or Joe Morgan? We are after something else. Above all, I hope to foster fresh encounters with artifacts which tell us something about how human beings make meaning through artifacts in the mass-produced modern landscape. Such engagement requires us to think about communities of production and reception, and about the terms of negotiation among participants. What itch is being scratched? Who’s left out of the picture, and why? 

These brief biographical entries won’t do all that. But I have tried to provide some small amount of cultural context, and to suggest interesting questions where appropriate. We have pointed the reader to other resources when possible, and cited authorities when it made sense. General biographical material easily available on Wikipedia or comparable sources has been incorporated, but only when it can be corroborated in more than one place. Some entries are longer, and offer more content. Others, due to the meager amount of information available deliver much less. But even scant records combined with the artifacts themselves can be quite suggestive and launch interesting research questions. 

It's important to note that we make no claim of encyclopedic coverage in the topic area. Nor would I represent these efforts as capturing essential figures, though some do appear. A modest offering, all told. We welcome commentary which adds to the discussion. In time I will incorporate comment into the body of these summaries as appropriate. I also welcome email correspondence through the contact page on this site. 

I will confess to being, well, moved by much of this work. We all operate within strictures of one sort or another. But these women lived in a very recognizably modern world, even as they labored under powerful cultural and legal limitations. Cults of fecundity and socialization dominated their professional worlds. Regardless of whether their personal proclivities would have taken them there, most were compelled to celebrate motherhood and nurture in the pictures they were called upon to make. There is an essential melancholy in the bargains some made to get access to mass distribution–just as there is something admirable in their will to achieve, despite constraints. That said, the range of these women’s production in cartooning and illustration, the professional angles they played in the marketplace, and the personalities they brought to bear can scarcely be overstated. They’re a rollicking bunch. 

Someday this material will live on the MGHL website. Our intention was to get something up in a timely way as soon as possible, which turned out to take a while (as things always do). At some point, we will also post some information about other relevant resources. The Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is a special standout. The late Joyce Schiller did yeoman’s service in writing on illustration on the RCAVS site. In addition, Illustration Art (David Apatoff) and Today’s Inspiration (Leif Peng), are two important chroniclers of illustration history. Leif has done important collating work on women illustrators in the mid-century period, in particular. 

Washington University Libraries and the Department of Special Collections (of which MGHL is a division) were fortunate to win a CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) grant to digitize much of the Walt Reed Illustration Archive tear sheet collection. Over the next two years, 150,000 tear sheets will be digitized offsite then returned to us to add metadata before posting to ARTSTOR. That’s a huge event, and we were thrilled to achieve it. MGHL Curator Skye Lacerte deserves the credit for that!

Even so, the unmoored jpeg is a circumscribed asset. We could have millions of digital files documenting untold cultural riches, and it might amount to so much unapproachable data. Academic and critical cultures must contextualize these things. That’s why this project, small as it is, has been undertaken. A brick in the wall, so to speak. 

In the future— probably in spurts— we will be adding to this resource. More women will be added. Half a dozen entries are partially ready, awaiting more work. But the illustrators profiled will not long remain exclusively female, as the project is envisioned as a teaching tool for a variety of contexts. True browsing and searchability are important aspects of the undertaking, which is why the index has been provided. “Women Illustrators” is and will be a searchable tag. 

If you have reached this post through a direct link, click on ILLO Index at left for a list of the illustrators profiled. Otherwise you should be able to scroll down for more material. 

Several alumni have worked on this project, and I am eager to recognize their efforts. Eden Lewis (BFA15) did primary work early in the undertaking during the academic year 14-15 as it was still assuming a primary form. Sara Wong (BFA16) was next, working through the summer of 2015 to pick up where Eden left off. The redoubtable Abhi Alwar (BFA16) has worked since last September until days before her graduation to complete this iteration of the project. These talented women–illustrator/designers all, and equally capable researchers–have animated the project, and are in some very real way the reason for its existence. We all need creative ancestors we can recognize, and I hope to have contributed in some small way to filling in a prior absence. 

Of course the real filler-in was Walt Reed, whose devotion to the history of illustration animated the cataloguing of these files in the first place. The educational illustrators who remained outside the purview of Reed and Illustration House have been added from my collection. Their contributions were no less compelling, despite the fact their work had no value on the secondary market. 

Finally, I am happy to acknowledge the project was underwritten in part by a Sam Fox School Teaching Grant, as well as through the generosity of the Department of Special Collections. Thanks to Sam Fox Dean Carmon Colangelo, College of Art Director Heather Corcoran, University Librarian Jeffry Trzeciak, and Associate University Librarian for Special Collections Nadia Ghasedi. Special thanks to MGHL Curator Skye Lacerte, and Special Collections Project Archivist Andrea Degener, for help supporting our student workers (as well as for everything else they do). Lastly: the visionary generosity of Ken and Nancy Kranzberg is still filtering out to the public, about which another day soon.

Kay Draper, The Toy Shop, from The Alpha Individual Arithmetics, Book One, Part II. Ginn and Company, 1929.

Neysa McMein, Cover Illustration for McCall's. June 1932.

Ethel Franklin Betts, color illustration of "The Story of Hansel and Gretel" from Fairy Tales from Grimm. Edited with an intro written by Hamilton W. Mabie. Published in 1909 by Edw. Stern & Co. Inc.

Jane Oliver, cover illustration for This Week Magazine. December 5, 1954.

Clara Elsene Peck, detail of illustration for "Twelve Hours' Treasure". Written by Phyllis Wyatt Brown. The Delineator, December 1914.

Grace Drayton, Dolly Dingle's Twin Cousins.  Pictorial Review, February 1930. 

Elizabeth Newhall (Buchsbaum)

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1909-1938) American Illustrator

I have written about Elizabeth Buchsbaum before. (See The Pleasure of Lucidity, on informational images more broadly, from 2008.) 

In that context I wrote: [how remarkable is] Animals Without Backbones, published in 1938 with a revised edition in 1948 by the zoologist Ralph Buchsbaum. At the time I got my water-damaged copy of this book in an estate sale, I was quite taken by the informational illustrations inside. I have since discovered that Professor Buchsbaum was assisted in the preparation of his tome on the squishy and the spiny by his sister, Elizabeth Buchsbaum. The Professor lavishes significant praise on the various photographers who supplied images of glistening undersea woo but mentions his sister only in abbreviated terms. But as it turns out, Elizabeth was a genius of elucidation. 

She articulates extremely complicated internal and external form with ease and grace, using nothing but variable line weight and a little stippling to establish surfaces, volume, and structures... [Her] hydra, particularly, astonishes because she is able to provide internal structural information in detail, even as she communicates the fact the animal in question is a floppy squirmy thing. The cutaway sections move along the volume of the curving arms.

Her work in the book ranges from the diagrammatic to the fully pictorial. The latter images appear in chapter heads. I imagine that she had experience as a printmaker, as her command of graphic form and positive/negative transitions is quite striking. 

From "Lucidity": Elizabeth Buchsbaum was born in 1909, and may have gone by the name of Elizabeth Newhall. I would like to know more about her. If anybody has any more information, I would like to hear from you. I think she is a surprisingly distinguished articulator of form for these purposes, and I bet she had a diverse and intriguing career. 

That invitation scared up a few notable comments, some of which continue to roll in even today. 

A family member named Brad Buchsbaum (precise relation unstated) to report that

"Elizabeth Buchsbaum sadly died in childbirth not long after the publication of Animals Without Backbones in 1938." 

How terrible. What a talented woman to pass away so young, and in such circumstances. As many as 1 in 100 women died in childbirth into the 1930s, but the figures plummeted soon thereafter. 1938 seems very late.  

Brad continued: "You are not alone in admiring her drawings. Indeed, M.C. Escher's famous flatworms were based on Elizabeth's drawings in Animals Without Backbones (according to Ralph Buchsbaum who visited Escher in Holland in the 50's.)"

I have only recently been contacted by the medical illustrator Tim Phelps of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine program at Johns Hopkins, with whom I share a geeky appreciation for the brilliance of Ms. Buchsbaum. 

As for other works, Elizabeth Newhall (her married name) painted a public library mural and was a member of the Hoosier Salon in Indiana. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones (2nd edition). Written by Ralph Buchsbaum. 1st Edition published in 1938, 2nd edition in 1948 by University of Chicago Press. 

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones. Interior structure of a hydra. 

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones. Detail, Hydra. 

The clean-looking scans on this page are from a copy of AWB in the offsite stacks at Washington University. This slightly crappy-looking scan is from the water-damaged estate sale copy I bought years ago. I posted this image in 2008. Brad Buchsbaum's mention of MC Escher's planaria and the Ralph Buchsbaum connection to same was provoked by this image.  

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones. Invertebrate Chordates, chapter header illustration. 

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones (. Illustration of the parasitic life cycle of a freshwater clam.

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones (2nd edition). Cutaway diagram inside a worm.

Elizabeth Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones (2nd edition). Starfish innards.

Jessie Gillespie

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1888-1926) American Illustrator

Jessie Gillespie worked in the strongly gendered mode of silhouette illustration, a holdover from 18th and 19th century folk practices that was put to use for decorative and satirical purposes in interior spreads of books and magazines, especially in the 1910s and 20s. Gillespie extended the visual vocabulary of silhouette to include value modulation and the integration of white detailing. She did so along with other illustrators like Helene Nyce, also profiled on this site. 

Roger Reed, son of Walt, friend of mine and of ours here at the Modern Graphic History Library (where the Walt Reed Illustration Archive has come to rest) told me a story about how Jessie Gillespie got her start. Recently we had a written exchange on this subject, in which Roger recounted the tale as heard from a grand-niece of one of the principals. I am leaving the informality in his text, though I'm sure Roger expected to be edited. I like the idiomatic quality of the story, expressed in present tense, like a joke. He wrote:

Here's the story as I remember hearing it from her, 30 years ago...

J. Thomson Willing, the art editor at the Associated Sunday Magazines syndicate, used to socialize with his counterpart at the old Life magazine, which was in the neighborhood, so this must have been around Herald Square, ca. 1908. I've forgotten the Life guy's name as well, but he was well known. Willing was known for "discovering" illustrators, and giving them a start, or a step into the big leagues: J. C. Coll, Charles Sarka, Grace Wiedershieim (Drayton), and many others.

One day, the Life guy comes into Willing's office, and sees some silhouette drawings and remarks that these must be by his latest discovery, and when Willing is cagey about it, the Life editor pressures him to allow him to give this artist some freelance work. The drawings were by Willing's daughter, Jessie, and she was something like 16 years old. Willing was reluctant to turn his daughter professional, and was also concerned about nepotism, so they arranged it that she would do work using her middle name, Gillespie. I don't believe she ever did work for ASM, but she did tons of work for Life. It wasn't only her drawings; her captions and setups showed precocious cleverness. And she really understood women's fashion!

One of my favorite items in the Reed Archive is an original silhouette ink drawing with elaborations and corrections in China white by Jessie Gillespie. 

Eight women converge on a sales counter, hunting for bargains. Above them a placard reads "Today only—49 cents." Their costumes and silhouetted forms are winsome and elegant—so much so that it takes a moment to notice the trampled boy, in stocking cap and sailor suit, lying face down on the ground, a victim of the rush for savings.

This stylish, darkly droll image was created for Life Magazine circa 1912 by Gillespie. It's ripe for critical analysis. The image captures an early moment in the story of consumer culture—when clothiers and cosmetics makers began selling women a kind of luxurious intimacy, even as the battle for women's suffrage raged. The image exploits anxieties about self-involved females neglecting their maternal duties. 

Gillespie was a very talented illustrator, with great sensitivity to negative space, visual rhythm and graphic composition. She's best known for her work for the Girl Scouts of America, Association Men Magazine (for the YMCA), Ladies Home Journal, Life, and Vogue. She also illustrated books, including Ann of Ava and Soldier Silhouettes On Our Front, among others. William L. Stidger, the writer of Soldier Silhouettes (1918) uses Gillespie's shades as an editorial device to propagandistic effect. Stidger was a pastor and YMCA worker among the American Expeditionary Force during WWI. The YMCA set up and operated relief huts as a respite for weary troops. Although much of Gillespie's extant work involves silhouette, strictly speaking that's not all she did; she also painted fashionable women in colorful garments, typically isolated on color fields. 

Gillespie, ad for Holmes & Edwards silverware. Ladies Home Journal. June 1920.

Jessie Gillespie, Today only_49 Cents. Ink and china white drawing for Life magazine, circa 1912. This image pays off Roger Reed's insight that Gillespie was keenly attuned to women's fashion. 

Gillespie, detail. The Darwinian spectacle of bargain-hunting. 

Gillespie, detail. A girl, neglected. 

Gillespie, detail. Little brother is trampled by the herd. 

Jessie Gillespie, accompanying illustrations for an article.

Jessie Gillespie, accompanying illustrations for an article in The Sunday Magazine. 

Jessie Gillespie, illustration. Soldier Silhouettes On Our Front by William L Stidge. Published Charles Scribners' Sons in 1918. Reprint in 2015 by Facsimile Publisher, Delhi, India. The ghostly atmospherics of these images are striking and creepy. 

Jessie Gillespie, cover illustration for The What-Shall-I-Do Girl. Written by Isabel Woodman Waitt. Published by L.C. Page and Company in 1913.

Jessie Gillespie, chapter header illustrations for The What-Shall-I-Do Girl. Written by Isabel Woodman Waitt. Published by L.C. Page and Company in 1913.

Ethel Franklin Betts

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1877-1959) American Illustrator

The younger sister of Anna Whelan Betts, Ethel also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and took classes under Howard Pyle at Drexel Institute between 1895 and 1899. Unpersuaded by what he felt could be accomplished in a formal academic setting, Pyle resigned from Drexel and started his own school at his studio in Wilmington, Delaware. Ethel followed him in 1900.

Ethel Franklin Betts was commissioned to illustrate many books, most notably The Raggedy Man by James Whitcomb Riley in 1904, and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett the following year. After marrying in 1909, her professional career waned, presumably as she turned her focus to matters domestic.

I recently tracked down a copy of Fairy Tales from Grimm that Betts illustrated in 1909. The suite includes five full-color images (dense and lush) as well as many black and white line drawings. Several reproduced here. 

From 1910, Betts continued to accept magazine cover illustration commissions, particularly for House and Garden.

Ethel Franklin Betts' work bears certain similarities to her sister's–a strong sense of shape and costume; often, settings dense with vegetation; but she also tends to pack more characters and objects into a picture, and consistently relies on shallower pictorial spaces.  

During the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Ethel Franklin Betts received a bronze medal (as did her sister Anna).

Ethel Franklin Betts, color illustration of "Snow-White and Rose-Red" from Fairy Tales from Grimm. Edited with an intro written by Hamilton W. Mabie. Published in 1909 by Edw. Stern & Co. Inc.

Ethel Franklin Betts, cover design for Fairy Tales from Grimm. Edited with an introduction written by Hamilton W. Mabie. Published in 1909 by Edw. Stern & Co. Inc.

Ethel Franklin Betts, color illustration of "The Story of Hansel and Gretel" from Fairy Tales from Grimm. 1909.

Ethel Franklin Betts, pen drawing illustration of "The Story of Little Red Cap" (or Little Red Riding Hood) from Fairy Tales from Grimm. 1909.

Ethel Franklin Betts, pen drawing for "The Story of Hans in Luck" from Fairy Tales from Grimm. 1909.

Ethel Franklin Betts, frontsipiece illustration of Rumplestiltskin with illustrated and hand-lettered title page of Fairy Tales from Grimm. 1909.

Ethel Franklin Betts, Cover Illustration for Collier's Magazine. Volume XXXI, Number 8. May 23, 1903. 

Ethel Franklin Betts, "Manners Change, Not Men". Harper's Monthly Magazine. Interior Illustration for a story by Edward Sanford Martin. September 1900. 

Nell Brinkley

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1886-1944) American Illustrator.

Nell Brinkley made a splash almost from the get-go. After two years of art school and an apprenticeship at the Denver Post, this small town Colorado girl made her way to New York, to work for William Randolph Hearst and the New York Evening Journal. A 1908 Denver Post story narrated her entry, as told by Arthur Brisbane, Journal editor. Brisbane wanted to put her to work making comics, then a (relatively) newfangled rage in daily newspapering. Brinkley objected. "But that's not what I came here to do," said she. Brisbane nodded and said, "But that's what we want you to do, little girl, and you must do what we want." Nell replied, "But I won't make comics...I've got a good daddy back in Denver and I'll go back there to him." As it happened, Brisbane relented, though Brinkley would go on to create her name as an illustrative cartoonist, a creator of entertainments.

The anecdote is recounted in Trina Robbins' Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century. (McFarland and Company, 2001.) If you have the slightest interest in the subject, track it down.

Nell Brinkley's first big assignment for the Journal involved onsite reportage. She covered the 1908 "Trial of the Century." The proceedings in question concerned the killing of architect Stanford White by Henry K. Thaw–over the honor of Thaw's wife, the beautiful Evelyn Nesbitt, cultural icon and early sex symbol. Nesbitt had worked as a model for the biggest artists of the day, and was reputed to be the model for Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl," the first it girl of a long line. 

Nell Brinkley–all of 21 years old–joined a battery of female journalists covering the trial, including the Journal's Dorothy Dix. 

Brinkley's drawings of Nesbitt became a sensation. These and subsequent images of fashionable, breezy, curly-haired working girls were dubbed “Brinkley Girls,” and supplanted Gibson's then-current model. 

Brinkley moved to New Rochelle, New York–well-known artist colony and illustrator hangout. (J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell both operated studios there.) Brinkley also became known for her writing, which took the form of text that accompanied her own column of daily commentary about women, profiles of young women in society, and illustrated theatre reviews. She also drew the covers of American Weekly, for which she supplied her own written and illustrated story series (Betty and Billy, again and again). The stories were overblown stylistically, yet pleasingly romantic.

Nell Brinkley, "The Dark Side and the Fair Side".

Nell Brinkley, print ad for the Nell Brinkley Bob Curler.

Nell Brinkley, "The Honey-Moon: A Wordless Story". 1914.

Nell Brinkley, cover for the Sunday Dayton Journal. July 26, 1936.

Nell Brinkley, "The Adventures of Cupid". American Sunday Monthly Magazine.

Nell Brinkley, "The Adventures of Cupid". American Sunday Monthly Magazine.

Nell Brinkley, "Golden Eyes and Her Hero Bill Over There". Cover of the American Weekly supplement within the Los Angeles Examiner. January 19, 1919.

Nell Brinkley, "Betty and Billy and their Love Through the Ages". Cover of the American Weekly supplement within the Sunday Milwaukee Telegram. April 2, 1922.

Nell Brinkley. 1924.

Fanny Young Cory

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1886-1972) American Illustrator

Fanny Cory (who signed her work variously as FTC. F.Y. Cory, and Fanny Y. Cory) had two distinct careers: one, in periodical and book illustration, and later another in syndicated newspaper cartooning.

Scarcely five feet tall as an adult, Cory was born in Illinois but raised in Helena, Montana. She moved to New York in 1894 at the age of 17, staying with her older brother Jack, a political cartoonist. She gained admittance to the Art Students League and entered the professional field in 1897. Cory built a practice doing illustration work and creating covers for St. Nicholas and general interest publications: Life, Scribner’s, Century, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Saturday Evening Post. She was also commissioned to illustrate books for children, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1902) and works by Frank L. Baum, including The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903). Her work, like that of most women in the industry, focused on depictions of family life. Her early work is not uniform in approach. The Fanny Cory Mother Goose (1913)–some of which is reproduced here–is an uneven affair, with several styles in play. 

She returned to Montana around 1903 to devote herself to family life, withdrawing (to a degree) from the market. With husband Fred Cooney, a rancher, she raised three children. In the 1920s, in need of cash to educate her children, she turned to newspaper cartooning. Cory became newly well-known for “Sonnysayings,” a somewhat treacly single-panel feature based on a utterances of Sonny, a five year-old boy. She also produced the “Little Miss Muffet” comic strip, reproduced in many newspapers. She produced these features for 30 years, finally retiring in 1956. 

Little Miss Muffet was anthologized in Big Little Books in 1936 [#1120] and in comic book form in 1947 and 48. I tracked a comic book down. The drawing has some very nice moments, which–unfortunately–are mostly ruined by the garish color applied to her overwhelmingly linear, monochrome daily comic strip. Where given circumstances call for a more neutral approach to applied tone, Cory's key drawing fares better. 

From the 1920s to the 50s, Cory the rancher woman produced watercolors known as the “Fairy Series”, which she regarded as her best work. A "Fairy Alphabet" book was published posthumously.  

In 1951 Fanny Young Cory Cooney won "Montana Mother of the Year," which reportedly filled her with pride. This biographical detail also nicely captures the socially circumscribed roles which defined even a nationally significant professional woman like Cory. She was 94 at her death in 1972.

FY Cory, interior illustration. Harper's Bazaar, 1903.

FY Cory, Front Cover for The Fanny Cory Mother Goose. Bobs-Merrill Company Publishers. 1913.

FY Cory, endpapers for The Fanny Cory Mother Goose. Bobs-Merrill Company Publishers. 1913.

FY Cory, The Fanny Cory Mother Goose.

FY Cory, The Fanny Cory Mother Goose.

FY Cory, The Fanny Cory Mother Goose.

FY Cory, The Fanny Cory Mother Goose.


Fanny Cory, "Little Miss Muffet" No. 11. Magazine published quarterly by Best Books, Inc. Copyright 1937, 1938, 1948 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.  December 1948.

Fanny Cory's "Little Miss Muffet" was a daily strip. When King Features sought to repurpose and reprint her strip in a comic book format (common practices) they did so by slapping garish color on what had been a somewhat austere black-and-white project.  

Cory, "Little Miss Muffet," distorted by chirpy, "active" color. 

Cory, "Little Miss Muffet." The night scene depicted above gives a slightly better sense of the original strip. The emphasis on value captures the simplified character of Cory's key drawing, which can be overwhelmed by King Features' high-keyed color palette. 


FY Cory, another piece from "Fairy Series". Watercolor painting. 1930.
It was later accompanied by text in the Fairy Alphabet Book: "Q is for Queen / Asleep in her bower/ Which is made by the shade/ Of a clematis flower." 

FY Cory, a piece from "Fairy Series". Watercolor painting. 1930.

FY Cory, a piece from "Fairy Series". Watercolor painting. 1930.

Gladys Rockmore Davis

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1901-1967) American Illustrator.

Gladys Rockmore Davis enjoyed a successful, diverse career in illustration and popular figurative painting. Born in New York, raised across Canada then in San Francisco, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, most notably with George Bellows. 

Her working years included two successful stretches as a commercial illustrator: first in advertising and fashion, during the 20s; then again from the late 40s to the end of her life, especially in advertising. In between these two periods, Gladys painted inward-looking social realist pictures, often of her young children.  

Her first commercial gig was at Grauman Brothers Advertising in Chicago, where she did fashion catalogue work. Gladys stood out as the only woman on an otherwise all-male staff. She caught the eye of Floyd Davis, the leading illustrator at Grauman, with whom she began a relationship on the down-low. When Davis' production plummeted the romance came to light, leading to Gladys' dismissal. 

Undeterred, she built a freelance practice as the couple made plans to marry. Having done so, in 1932 the pair made off for Europe, where they remained a year. Upon returning to New York, Gladys–suddenly off her commercial game–headed for the Art Students League, to study with painter George Grosz, Thus began a decade's worth of gallery painting. 

Among her better-known published projects was one she undertook with husband Floyd for LIFE magazine in 1944 and 45. The two were dispatched to liberated Paris to document the recovering city.

In the late 40s Gladys returned to commercial practice, becoming a featured artist for major companies like Upjohn, Elgin Watches, and Johnson & Johnson. The ad reproduced here, of one child bandaging another, was typical of its highly successful campaign. These paintings (there are many) have a sort of folk-art-meets-Ben-Shahn sensibility, with a dash of cartoon and maybe Brueghel thrown in. They were commissioned in 1948. 

Gladys Rockmore Davis, Cover Illustration. Ladies' Home Journal. November 1947.

Gladys Rockmore Davis, Johnson & Johnson Ad, Ladies Home Journal, circa 1950. 

Edna Eicke

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1919-1979) American Illustrator.

Eicke worked in the magazine industry for many years, as both staffer and freelancer. She got her start in the art department at House and Garden, and went on to create interior and cover illustrations for a variety of publications, including Vogue and Mademoiselle. She's best known for her fifty-one New Yorker covers, published between 1945 and 1961. 

The covers consist of landscape and genre scenes which evoke metropolitan childhood, owing more than a little to Eicke's own experiences growing up in the city, as well as raising three children of her own with illustrator Tom Funk in Greenwich Village. 

Eicke studied at Parsons School of Design and secured a first job sketching window displays at Sue Williams’s Display Studio in New York, where she also met Funk. 

The family decamped to Westport, Connecticut in 1953. When magazine work dried up in the early 60s (as it did for so many) Eicke worked in childrens books, to modest success. 

For additional detail, including a bibliography, please consult this reference page, credited to the Edna Eicke estate. 

Edna Eicke, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. December 18, 1948.

Anne Harriet Fish

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1890-1964) English Illustrator

This project is devoted to American women illustrators, by which standard Fish might not appear. But she traveled to New York and did work for Conde Nast's new Vanity Fair, launched in 1913. (Periodicals with that name appeared in several incarnations on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning in 1859; Nast's became a significant cultural player but did not survive the Depression, folding in 1936.) 

Fish is known as an arch chronicler of the Jazz Age. A caricaturist and satirist, she first attracted notice in England, notably in the pages of Punch and The Tatler. Her attenuated, flattened approach to drawing the figure and use of black shape is reminiscent of John Held, Jr., who like her is associated with the essential 20s "flapper."

Fish created her own character, Eve, whose exploits in the Tatler were captured in compilations called the Book of Eve (of which there were at least three). She was also hired by the Fulper Pottery Company (New Jersey) to do design work associated with a line of porcelain novelties.

Born in Bristol, she studied at the London School of Art and in Paris. 

Later in life she produced amusing paintings of cats to raise money for feline charities.

Anne Fish. Vanity Fair. November 1915.

Anne Fish, "Great Moments at the Movies". Vanity Fair. December 1916.

Anne Fish, "The Dazzle Fish" (top) and "The Riviera" (bottom). Print ad illustrations for Abdulla and Co., Ltd.

Anne Fish, "The Once Rich". Harper's Bazaar. January 1929.

Anne Fish, "The Riviera Face". Harper's Bazaar. January 1929.

Anne Fish. Vanity Fair. February 1921.

Anne Fish. Vanity Fair. December 1916.

Ruth Sigrid Grafstrom

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1905-1986) American Illustrator.

Born in Rock Island, Illinois, to artistic parents, Ruth Graftstrom emerged as a significant figure in fashion illustration in the 1930s and 40s.  Her father was the Swedish painter Olof Graftstrom, who immigrated to Seattle and had an impact on the Northwest realist painters. Olof later chaired the art department at Augustana College, where Ruth was born. Her mother was a ceramicist.

After formal training in Chicago and Paris, Grafstrom entered the field. She worked primarily in fashion illustration, upon which she had significant influence. She first came to prominence in the early 1930s, and is strongly associated with Vogue, in both American and British incarnations. She produced both covers and interior illustrations. 

She also took magazine fiction projects, and worked with the Delineator, Cosmopolitan and other women's mags. 

Ruth Graftstrom's work often calls to mind Matisse. She embraced modernist approaches to figuration while working briskly and accessibly to shape an image of up-to-date femininity. Rosemary Torre and Harold Koda write "Graftstrom made her mark...illustrating the womanly ideal–soigné, yet warm and receptive. [Her work features] 'real' women...[who] inhabit 'real' space." From 20th Century Fashion Illustration: The Feminine Ideal, 2011, Courier. 

Several of the Vogue samples here underscore Torre and Koda's point: these women are in some actual place, not suspended in display-land.  

Her work ranges from collage to pure line to loose, flat massing annotated by line, to fully modeled figures in complex settings. She exudes confidence. 

Graftstrom secured significant advertising clients, among them Saks, Matson Line, Coty, and Pepsodent.


Ruth Grafstrom, "Coat and Dress from Rose AMado and from I. Magnin". Vogue. September 1, 1935.

Ruth Grafstrom, "A wrap-around over your suit". Vogue. June 1, 1932.

Ruth Grafstrom, "Striped Woollens are Autumn News". Vogue. August 15, 1933.

Helen E. Hokinson

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1893-1949) American Illustrator.

Helen Hokinson was a cartoonist with a gift for capturing stout, somewhat clueless affluent matrons who prevail by dint of (sometimes dotty) persistence. 

She studied at what became the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (then the Academy of Fine Arts) and later secured dependable freelancer status at Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott, department stores in Chicago. She shared a studio with Alice Harvey (later Ramsey), with whom she moved to New York in 1920. 

She established a new fashion clientele with clients like Lord and Taylor, and supplemented that work with an emerging enterprise, cartooning–which after all, is a cousin of fashion illustration anyway. She caught on with Life, in those days a humor magazine–as opposed to the photojournalism venue it would become, one bankruptcy down the road. 

Whenever she went out, Hokinson carried a sketchbook, noting small, specific moments of people’s lives she observed around her. This journalistic sensibility for documenting behavior propelled her career as a cartoonist. At the suggestion of friends and a teacher, the painter Howard Giles, Helen submitted a batch of cartoons to Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker. She had been told that Ross was looking for work like hers, and it turned out to be true. Hokinson became one of the first cartoonists published in The New Yorker, and subsequently enjoyed a lifelong relationship with the publication. At least one of her cartoons ran in every issue until 1950.

She specialized in dimly self-confident women of a certain age–to say nothing of a certain gravity–who gamely blunder through modern urban life. Hokinson referred to these comical figures as “My Best Girls." At first her cartoons ran without captions, but soon the magazine assigned a copywriter to write the little bits of dialogue we associate with New Yorker cartoons today. Later Hokinson began a professional partnership with the writer James Reid Parker, who collaborated with her to craft the best words to accompany her pictures. 

Helen Hokinson accepted an invitation to speak to a charitable concern in Washington DC in November 1949. In the process of traveling to the engagement, the plane in which she was a passenger collided with another aircraft over Washington National Airport. All aboard both planes were killed.  

Her New Yorker work was compiled and published in book form many times, including several volumes published after her death. 

Helen E. Hokinson, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. September 19, 1942.

Helen E. Hokinson, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. March 16, 1940.

Helen E. Hokinson, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. May16,  1942.

Helen E. Hokinson, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. September 25, 1943.

The Hollings

Added on by Doug Dowd.

Holling, Lucille Webster
(1900-1989) American Illustrator.

Holling, Holling C
(1900-1973) American Illustrator.

Our entry on the Hollings was written as part of an effort to identify and present women illustrators in the Walt Reed Archive, as well as in my own personal library. The Hollings, a couple who practiced mostly in tandem, worked almost exclusively in children's books. Consequently they did not show up in Walt's clip files. Among the illustrated books I did found a copy of The Book of Indians, a quasi-ethnography for children, published by Platt and Munk in 1935, but that requires more contextualization than I had time and energy for.

Because we were most concerned with Lucille, I tried to find a project that she alone produced. I found Children of Many Lands at a second-hand book sale, and tracked down Kimo the Whistling Boy online. Kimo is her illustration credit alone; they share credit on Children of Many Lands. Lucille is listed first in our entry here, given the goals of this project. 

Lucille Webster studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and shared a studio with her sister. She met her soon-to-be-husband at the Art Institute.

Holling C. Holling (neé Holling Allison Clancy) was born in Holling Corners, Michigan. His early interests in science and nature informed his career later on as a children’s book author and illustrator. Holling graduated from the Art Institute and worked in the taxidermy department at the Field Museum in Chicago.

In 1926, the new couple set sail on the University World Cruise, sponsored by NYU. They were able to secure working gigs to fund the enterprise. Lucille designed scenery and costumes for onboard theatricals, and Holling served as the ship's art instructor.

Upon their return, Lucille and Holling worked in advertising. But t
hey were both outdoorsy types, and Holling avidly pursued his self-education in natural history and amateur ethnography.

Lucille produced fashion illustrations and a few of her own illustrated book projects: Kimo (1928) and Songs from around a Toadstool Table (1938). Holling dedicated his life mostly to children’s books. He's best known for Paddle-to-the-Sea (1942), which was a Caldecott Honor book that year (Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings won the Prize in '42.)

The works on which they collaborated featured black and white line art and rich watercolors. Reasoning from the more modeled approach to the color plates in Paddle, the lovely watercolors shown here from Children From Other Lands are likely to be Lucille's. The black and whites (which are themselves quite good) are HCH's.

An important note concerning these projects: Kimo (and much of the Hollings' work) raises certain questions about the fetishization and artistic "colonization" of tribal cultures. The analysis can be overdone, but it would be naive to present these things absent recognition of the cultural complexity involved. The work itself could be described as naive, but that would not quite be fair. It is of its period, and grounded to every degree possible (the Hollings' appear to have been fastidious) in knowledge of indigenous crafts and folkways.

he dangers associated with well-meaning stereotypes were not recognized in the 1920s and 30s. People like the Hollings were deeply respectful of traditional cultures within then-contemporary limits.

All that said, the texts of many of these books (especially Children From Other Lands) are inescapably patronizing, and often discomfiting. 


Lucille Holling + H.C. Holling, Frontispiece from Little Folks of Other Lands. Written by Watty Piper.  Published in 1929 by Platt & Munk, republished 1943.

Lucille Holling + H.C. Holling, Children of Other Lands. Written by Watty Piper. Published in 1929 by Platt & Munk, republished 1943.

Lucille Holling + H.C. Holling, Little Folks of Other Lands. Written by Watty Piper.  Published in 1929 by Platt & Munk, republished 1943.

Lucille W. Holling, Kimo: The Whistling Boy. Written by Alice Cooper Bailey. Published in 1928 by The Wise-Parslow Co.

Lucille Webster Hollings, A Thrilling Tale of Burma, cover illustration for Oriental Stories: Fascinating Tales of the East. Autumn 1931. I am breaking my own rule, and including an image not in the Reed Archive or my own library. This image appears in a blog post by Terence Hanley devoted to Lucille Holling at Tellers of Weird Tales. 

Lucille W. Holling, Kimo: The Whistling Boy. Written by Alice Cooper Bailey. Published in 1928 by The Wise-Parslow Co.

Lucille W. Holling, Detail from Kimo: The Whistling Boy

Lucille W. Holling, Detail from Kimo: The Whistling Boy

Lucille W. Holling, Frontispiece of Kimo: The Whistling Boy. Written by Alice Cooper Bailey. Published in 1928 by The Wise-Parslow Co.

Elizabeth Shippen Green

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1871-1954) American Illustrator.

Elizabeth Shippen Green first came to prominence in 1901 when she secured an exclusive contract to produce illustration for Harper's Monthly, though she'd been working in the field for five or six years at the time. 

Born in Philadelphia–the first American publishing center–she was inspired by Howard Pyle’s drawings in St. Nicholas, whose first illustrations ran when she was barely of school age. ESG enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Thomas Eakins (who, like ESG and her fellow future illustrators, made active use of photography in the preparation of painted images; as they would also do, Eakins was already concealing it). Next she traveled to Europe for several years, enriching her education with exposure to Continental museums.

Upon her return to the US, Elizabeth Shippen Green launched a career drawing fashions for catalogs and picking up the odd illustration job for magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and St. Nicholas. In 1894, she enrolled in Pyle’s class at Drexel Institute, where she met Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith. Her early efforts in periodicals proved the maxim that good work begets good work. Thus did Green become the first woman staff artist at Harper's Weekly. 

She threw in her lot with fast friends Oakley and Smith, and as all three began to build thriving careers they moved in together–along with Henrietta Cozens, a skilled gardener and household manager. The three artists worked in a collaborative environment under the roof of the Red Rose Inn in Villanova, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia) and came to be known the “Red Rose Girls.”

Consult the entries for Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith for the sexual politics of the Red Rose Girls. Green would live the the most conventional later life of the group, marrying Hugo Elliot, an architecture professor, at the age of 40 in 1911. 

ESG's work from Harpers remains to be collated from the bound volumes on our shelves, though I have included just such an image at the top of this post. The Walt Reed Illustration Archive includes a number of her illustrated books, samples from two of which are included here: The Mansion, written by Henry van Dyke, published by Harper & Brothers, 1911; and Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb, published by David McKay Company, 1922. Tales from Shakespeare includes black-and-white line art as well as luminous full color plates, and is regarded as one of her most successful book projects. 

Green was the subject of an exhibition at the Library of Congress in 2001 entitled A Petal on the Rose. The show lives on in digital form, featuring work from her work for Harper's, particularly.


Elizabeth Shippen Green, Playthings, illustration for "The Mind of a Child," Harper's Monthly, December 1906. 

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Tales from Shakespeare. By Charles and Mary Lamb. Published by David McKay Company, 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, black and white chapter header illustration from Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, black and white chapter header illustration from Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, black and white chapter header illustration from Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, black and white chapter header illustration from Tales from Shakespeare. 1922.


Elizabeth Shippen Green, illustration from The Mansion. Written by Henry van Dyke. Published by Harper & Brothers, 1911.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, illustration from The Mansion. 1911.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, illustration from The Mansion. 1911.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, illustration from The Mansion. 1911.

Elizabeth Shippen Green, illustration from The Mansion. 1911.

Christina Malman

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1911-1959) American (English-born) Illustrator.

Christina Malman's work is distinguished by (a sometimes trenchant) wit, a slightly rounded designerly sense, and a whiff of darkness. Born in Southhampton, England in 1912, she was transplanted to New York City at two. She attended Pratt, where she made contacts and inroads into the profession. Her best (and ongoing) gig placed her on the cover of the New Yorker 35 times. Sadly, she died shy of 50; that's a not a bad tally in a short career. Malman also generated more than 500 interior spot illustrations for the same publication. 

Only covers are shown here, but I hope to remedy that over time, by rifling through old bound issues in the Walt Reed Archive. The interior black-and-whites are splendid things, ranging from figure essays in pattern and density to arch, even bleak, character studies. The drawings offer a satirical p.o.v. on the denizens of Manhattan. 

For a stiffer concoction, consider Malman's July 27, 1940 New Yorker cover. It presents a river of downward cast, behatted Jews filing past German soldiers, drawn in white on black, no less. The image stuns in retrospect. I want to know more about its reception in the U.S. (In the nascent comic book industry, Jewish creators declared war on the Nazis long before Pearl Harbor. See Michael Chabon's excellent novel, The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. Malman's traditionally Jewish surname suggests shared urgency.) Christina Malman's cover ran after German air attacks had commenced on British installations, but before the bombing of London–the infamous "Blitz"–began on September 7. 

The largest concentration of Malman's original works may be seen at the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian's Design Museum in New York on the Museum Mile at 5th Avenue and 91st. 

Christina Malman, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. December 1940.

Christina Malman, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. February 1940.

Christina Malman, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. May 1942.

Christina Malman, Cover Illustration for The New Yorker. July 1940.

Neysa Moran McMein

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1877-1972) American Illustrator.

McMein studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s before moving to New York to pursue an acting career. Born Marjorie Francis McMein, Neysa changed her name on the advice of a numerologist who believed it would bring her greater commercial success. After a brief stint as an actress McMein attended the Art Students League and returned to illustration. During World War I, McMein illustrated several posters for the United States government, the American Red Cross and the YMCA, mostly depicting women and girls aiding in the war effort.

After the war Neysa rose to prominence illustrating covers for McCall's, McClure's, The Saturday Evening Post and other periodicals. McMein's magazine illustrations depict glamorous young women, often framed as portraits. McMein also illustrated several advertising campaigns, most notably creating the image of fictional housewife Betty Crocker.

In addition to her illustration career McMein cultivated her public persona as a New York City socialite, throwing regular parties and counting Dorothy Parker, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Charlie Chaplin amongst her close friends. In 1984 McMein was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame

Neysa McMein, Cover Illustration for McCall's. June 1932.

Neysa McMein, Cover Illustration for The Saturday Evening Post. March 17, 1917.

Neysa McMein, Cover illustration for McCalls. September 1923.

Neysa McMein, Print ad for Cadillac. The Ladies Home Journal. July 1923.

Neysa McMein. Unknown.

Neysa McMein. Unknown original artwork.

Neysa McMein. Unknown original artwork.

Neysa McMein, Cover Illustration for McCall's. January 1934.

Neysa McMein, Cover Illustration for McClure's. July 1917.

Neysa McMein, Print ad for American Chicle Company. The Saturday Evening Post. April 1920.

Dorothy Monet

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(active 1940s-1960s) American Illustrator.

Dorothy Monet worked at the Rahl Art Studio in New York, a midcentury outfit that supplyied illustration work to then-robust editorial and advertising markets. The best known of these illustration agencies was the Charles E. Cooper Studio. The studios produced a consistent product dependent upon a settled methodology of using models, photo shoots, photographic projection (the little-mentioned, actively concealed Lucidograph, or Lucy) and goauche on board. This approach produced a striking sameness in what became known as "Boy/Girl" illustration in the market.

Monet did Boy/Girl work, almost exclusively. Her ads, like many, used the visual conventions of fiction illustration to minimize contrast between editorial content and advertising, with the eager collaboration of the magazines.

Relatively little is known about her, aside from a bit of period testimony about her winsome personal style and a smattering of extant projects--particularly an ad campaign for Ascot Lighters. 

Lief Peng has written about her here, and supplies a number of samples. The Reed Archive files include advertising work for Old Gold cigarettes, but we do not have any of the Ascot work. 

Stylistically, Monet's illustration ranged from an abbreviated realism to more modernist-inflected high design work. She worked during the postwar New York high season of magazine and advertising illustration.

Like many after 1960 Monet would have been badly impacted in the ensuing, precipitous market drop off when tastes changed and magazines–under pressure amid falling ad revenues lost to television–began using much less illustration.  

Dorothy Monet, "Beauty is Certainly Deep" in the Women's Home Companion. May 1955.

Dorothy Monet, Print ad for Coca Cola. This Week Magazine. September 1, 1957.

Dorothy Monet, Print ad for Old Gold Cigarettes. Collier's Magazine. June 29, 1946.

Dorothy Monet, "Bachelor Apartment" by Albert N. Williams. Collier's Magazine. August 17, 1946.

Dorothy Monet, Interior illustration for Women's Home Companion. September 1952.

Dorothy Monet, "Beautiful Thief" by Margaret Culkin Banning. Women's Home Companion. February 1953.

Fanny Munsell

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1884-1920) American Illustrator.

A prominent supplier of painted illustrations, in both grisaille and full color. Her work appeared in Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Home Companion, and (as shown here) Harper's Monthly, among other nationally distributed publications. She is associated with advertising work, though I have yet to uncover any in our files. She did some teaching, though for what school or under what aegis is far from clear.

Walt Reed wrote that Fanny Munsell taught her future husband, Charles Edward Chambers, who modeled his approach to illustration on hers. Unfortunately, Fanny Munsell Chambers died at 36. C.E. Chambers remarried and went on to become extremely successful, earning admission to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2010. 

Fanny Munsell's career has remained largely obscure. 

Fanny Munsell, "Watching Them, Janet Felt a Thousand Years Old," story illustration for "Young Love," by Elizabeth Jordan. Harper's Monthly Magazine. January 1915.

Fanny Munsell, "He Lingered to Propose to Her, While the Conductor Stood Waiting". Harper's Monthly Magazine. Story illustration for "Young Love," by Elizabeth JordanHarper's Monthly Magazine. January 1915.

Evaline Ness

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1911-1986) American Illustrator.

An illustrator and sometimes writer of children's books, Evaline Ness seems to have lived a colorful, interesting and possibly tempestuous life. Her work in the 1950s and especially the 60s was recognized for its formal strength and embrace of diverse printerly media. Born Evaline Michelow in Union City, Ohio, (then and now a tiny town on the Indiana border) she studied at Ball State Teacher’s College, followed by the Chicago Art Institute–consecutively in pursuit of a career as a librarian and a fashion illustrator.

Ness took (and retained) the name of her second husband, Eliot Ness, the former treasury agent who led "the Untouchables" and bedeviled Al Capone. Ness, a divorcee, landed as the safety director in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 30s where he struck up a relationship with the "alluring" (contends Capone biographer Laurence Bergreen) Evaline, herself recently free of husband No. 1, a Mr. McAndrew. Evaline worked as a fashion illustrator at Higbee's Department store (known to devotees of A Christmas Story, the movie, and well-remembered by me as the local fancy department store as a kid in northeast Ohio.) The pair married secretly in 1938-39, and moved on to Washington DC several years later when things soured for Eliot in Cleveland. 

The marriage did not last. Evaline migrated to New York, where she worked for Saks Fifth Avenue. She studied intermittently: at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, the Art Student’s League in New York City, and–on a European interlude until the money ran out–the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. All along she scared up work: as an instructor in children’s art classes, in addition to her fashion illustration and magazine projects.

In 1954 Evaline Ness illustrated her first children’s book— The Story of Ophelia by Mary Gibbons. From then on she stuck with children's publishing, adding to the ironic roster of childless women whose best hope of sustained work turned out to be cranking out illustrated entertainments for other people's offspring. 

Evaline Ness illustrated more than 30 children's books and wrote many of those, to boot. She created Caldecott Honor books in 1963, 64 and 65 before winning the Caldecott Medal in 1966 for Sam, Banks & Moonshine, which she also wrote. (Reproductions.)   
When Evaline died in 1986, she had been living in Palm Beach, Florida. Her Wikipedia biography supplies the detail–courtesy of Eliot Ness biographer Douglas Perry (2014)–that Evaline's "alienated" third husband Arnold Bayard had her cremated and "her ashes unceremoniously disposed of." 

Evaline Ness papers and manuscripts may be found at the universities of Minnesota and Southern Mississippi, as well as at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Her (abbreviated) New York Times obituary is available here

Evaline Ness, illustration from Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy. Written by Virginia Haviland. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1965.

Photo credit unavailable. An elegant-looking Evaline Ness in her studio, published in American Artist, January 1956. She designed the tapestry behind her. Adrienne P., A blogger at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where I first encountered this image, has (sensibly) argued that "Cate Blanchett should play her in the movie."

Photo credit unavailable. An elegant-looking Evaline Ness in her studio, published in American Artist, January 1956. She designed the tapestry behind her. Adrienne P., A blogger at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where I first encountered this image, has (sensibly) argued that "Cate Blanchett should play her in the movie."

Evaline Ness, illustration from Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland. Written by Nic Leodhas. Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1962.

Evaline Ness, illustration from Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland

Evaline Ness, illustration from Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland.


Evaline Ness, spread from Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy. Written by Virginia Haviland. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1965.

Evaline Ness, illustration from Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy. 1965

Evaline Ness, illustration from Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy. 1965

Evaline Ness, spread from Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Italy. 1965


Evaline Ness, cover illustration for Sam, Bangs & Moonshine. After three consecutive years of runner-up-dom, earning Caldecott Honor status (1963-1965), Ness won the Caldecott Prize with this book in 1966.  Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

Evaline Ness, cover illustration for Sam, Bangs & Moonshine.

Evaline Ness, cover illustration for Sam, Bangs & Moonshine.


Evaline Ness, "One Lucky Girl Was Claiming Bill's Attention". Unknown Publication.

Evaline Ness, "She Sat There Without Any Idea What to Say". Unknown Publication.

Grace Gebbie Drayton (Wiederseim)

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1877-1936) American Illustrator.

Grace Drayton was first known by her maiden name, Grace Gebbie, then as Grace Wiederseim. After divorcing her first husband she married a second time, to Mr. Drayton, whom she also divorced. For the sake of simplicity she seems to have kept the second husband’s surname. She is referred to as Drayton most often, regardless of the period in question. For the record, Drayton was not her name until 1912. 

Another prominent illustrator/cartoonist associated with the city of Philadelphia, she created several comic series early in her career for the Philadelphia Press. Bobby Blake and Dolly Drake debuted in the early 1900s. Working with her sister Margaret G. Hays, she launched The Terrible Tales of Captain Kiddo in 1909.

Drayton will be forever be associated with the “Campbell Soup Kids," a national sensation ad campaign (beginning 1905) which featured short, chubby, and rosy-cheeked children. As is often true in advertising, her name was never published on the drawings. Her then-husband Wiederseim, who worked at a lithographic printing house, helped her get the gig with Campbell's. The Campbell kids spawned a licensing bonanza, especially in dolls. 

Grace Drayton developer her own cut-out paper dolls for Pictorial Review, called Dolly Dingles. (The ambiguity of the relationship between the Campbell's Kids stuff and the style she used in her other work–they were basically the same [see the Leslie's cover at top]–would never be tolerated today.) 

She improvised a seemingly endless set of highly similar characters from a small set of syllables. From the late 1920s Dolly Dimples and Bobby Bounce would prove her most lasting property in comics, and one she held the rights to. 

Drayton also became involved in the Plastic Club, a historic women-organized and -led art organization in Philadelphia, founded by Jessie Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley in 1899. (See entries for them in the ILLO History index.)

Note: it is not entirely clear if and when Drayton ever quit working on the Campbell's campaign. It is quite possible that many of the later ads were ghosted in her style. The ads shown here were filed by Walt Reed in his Grace Weiderseim tear sheet folder, which is good enough for me.


Grace Drayton, Print ad for Campbell's Tomato Soup. Ladies Home Journal. January 1919.

Grace Drayton, "Dolly's Letter" by Margaret G. Hay. Poem illustration. Sunday Magazine. December 11, 1910.

Grace Drayton, Cover illustration. Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper. The Schweinler Press. May 15, 1913.

Grace Drayton, print ad for Campbell's Tomato Soup. Unknown publication. 1920.

Grace Drayton, Dolly Dingle's Twin Cousins. Pictorial Review, February 1930. These children are Campbell's-Kid-esque, but Drayton somehow managed to keep renaming them under her own copyright. 

Grace Drayton, Campbells advertisement. Delineator Magazine. December 1917.

Grace Drayton, print ad for Campbell's Vegetable Soup. Unknown publication. June 1918.

Helene Nyce

Added on by Doug Dowd.

(1885-1969) American Illustrator.

Nyce worked in several modes: an elegant Art Nouveau-influenced linear style, an equally if not more refined silhouette style, and weaker watercolor work for children. Her greatest success came though her silhouette work. Commercial silhouette illustration was a designated "female" genre in the 1910s, especially. It was a professional derivative of the 19th century handicraft. (For another pro, see Jessie Gillespie.) 

Nyce received commissions from a variety of periodicals, including Ladies Home Journal, American Woman Magazine, Junior Home Magazine, and Junior World Journal.

Nyce was active in book publishing as well. She teamed up with her mother, Vera Nyce, to create numerous children’s books. The Adventures of the Greyfur Family, reproduced here, consists of rather thin warmed-over Beatrix Potter illustration, stuck between an aggressive use of two-dimensional shape and a light touch in watercolor. In 1927, Nyce worked on The Illustrated Child's Verses, by Eugene Field.

Nyce will be best remembered for Flossie Fisher’s Funnies, a series that ran in the Ladies Home Journal from 1910-1918. Flossie Fisher merchandise (dolls, jewelry, stationery, and china) were collected by an avid fan base of children as well as adults.

The Flossie Fisher narratives were created in stacked registers (or horizontal bands) which flow from left to right and top to bottom. They share a formal logic with comic strips–by then extremely well established–but do not use panels or voice bubbles. Many of the strips use black shapes with a complementary set of middle gray characters and forms. Formally speaking, the Flossie pages are visually austere, yet delightful. 

That said, we glimpse less delightful topical content in Flossie's Funnies. The December 1913 episode shown here (Tommy's Accident Brings a Merry Christmas) brings racial disparities into view. Tommy Kirby, a tomcat, tumbles down a ski slope "in Grandpa's back pasture," and comes to rest outside Lorenzo Coon's house–in which live a family of anthropomorphized raccoons. Peering in the window, Tommy observes that the Coon family is destitute. On Christmas Eve! Tommy hurries home to his confreres, including a rabbit, a canine of some sort, and a little girl. (I have not spent sufficient time with the series yet to know all the character names. When I do, I'll edit this again.) 

The gang implores a mammy figure, complete with headscarf and thick lips in profile, to assist in preparing holiday goodies for the Coons. The strip continues with a return to the Coon house, outside which proper Christmas preparations are made. When morning comes, the gobsmacked Coons are surprised with presents, as Tommy, et. al. look on from a distance. 

It's implicit that the Coons (in Jim Crow parlance) are African Americans, possibly sharecroppers. The Lorenzo Coons seem to operate beyond the bounty of the Fisher family, in marked contrast to human mammy figure, who we take to be a live-in servant and lesser member of the household. Race is codified by the tropes of "coons" and the mammy archetype–a compliant, often nostalgic former slave. That such tropes were in play in mainstream material should not surprise us.  The  moral of the story, so to speak, is standard late December sentiment: don't forget the poor at Christmas! to which is added a distancing layer of racial allegory. 

Raised on a farm in New Jersey, Helene Nyce earned diplomas in Industrial Arts and Illustration from the Philadelphia Museum School.

It will be noted that many significant American illustrators of the late 19th and into the 20th centuries were from, or studied in, Philadelphia. The Pyle influence has been be cited as a factor, but the city itself had been an important publishing center since colonial days. The Museum School and the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts were important training grounds for practitioners of the new profession. 

Helene Nyce, "Flossie Fisher's Funnies: This Little Pig Went to the Market" in the Ladies Home Journal. July 1915.

Helene Nyce, "Flossie Fisher's Funnies: Flossie Goes Blackberrying" in the Ladies Home Journal. August 1912.

Helene Nyce, Detail from "Flossie Fisher's Funnies: This Little Pig Went to the Market" in the Ladies Home Journal. August 1912.

Helene Nyce, Detail from "Making Themselves Welcome at Cinderella's Palace" in the Ladies Home Journal. June 1915.

Helene Nyce, "The Blue-Button Twins" in the Ladies Home Journal. March 1913.

Helene Nyce, The Adventures of the Greyfur Family, written by Vera Nyce. Version published in 1917 by the J.P. Lippincott Company.

Helene Nyce, The Adventures of the Greyfur Family.

Helene Nyce, The Adventures of the Greyfur Family.

Helene Nyce, "Flossie Fisher's Funnies: Tommy's Accident Brings a Merry Christmas" in the Ladies Home Journal. December 1913.

Helene Nyce, "Flossie Fisher's Funnies: Making Themselves Welcome at Cinderella's Palace" in the Ladies Home Journal. June 1915.