Thursday, December 17, 2009

A General History of the Golden Age of Illustration

At the turn of the 20th c. the period of time between 1880 and 1914 now revered as the Golden Age of Illustration emerged as one of the most prosperous times in illustration's history. The changing economic background in the wake of the industrial revolution allowed for new developments in accurate picture reproduction as well as more efficient and farther-reaching means of distribution. The work that evolved with the illustrators of this time would be recognized by generations of subsequent artists as a reflection of the cultural background of the times. From the perspective of the public, the Golden Age distinguished the illustrator from the fine artist, both in the breadth of their celebrity and the application of their craft. As a whole, the Golden Age of Illustration differs from the standard definition of an art movement. The Golden Age was not defined by a manifesto of any kind, was not centralized into any specific location, and was not limited to a particular medium. Rather, it refers to a time in which the idea of an “illustration” and an “illustrator” came to fruition and a new market emerged for these illustrators to publish their work to a larger audience than ever before, becoming very wealthy doing so. Drawing inspiration from the medieval, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Japanese woodblock prints, among others, illustrators of this time synthesized a diverse approach to picture making and applied it to a commercial endeavor like never before.

Economic Background

The explosion of illustration at the start of the 20th c. can be attributed to multiple factors that produced an overall social and technological change at the turn of the century. The Golden Age reached its peak right before WWI and declined after the war. Prior to 1880, a number of key occurrences took place that, retrospectively, laid the groundwork for the Golden Age to occur.

In the late 18th c. Thomas Bewick, an English engraver, fully realized the potential of wood engraving, establishing it as a more efficient process that would soon surmount copper and steel plate etching in use. While at the time the engraver was more highly regarded than the illustrator because of their responsibility to interpret and transfer the illustrators’ drawings onto the block, later advancements in printing technology would encourage illustrators to assume a more dominant role in the process. Some even took on the role of engraver themselves. John Tenniel’s 1861 version of Alice in Wonderland was illustrated entirely in woodcuts. Artists such as Rockwell Kent and Lynd Ward gained prominence through their wood engravings during the time of the Golden Age. No longer embarrassed by the drastic changes that usually resulted from an engraver’s interpretation to the original works, illustrators began making claims to their own work. This initial step which led artists to sign and claim ownership over their work would propel illustrators into receiving recognition for their work and eventually into gaining the celebrity status that many enjoyed during the Golden Age.

The American Copyright Act of 1790, the first federal copyright act issued in the United States, discontinued the practice of re-engraving drawings done by foreign artists for use in American publications and encouraged the use of local talent instead.

In 1861 English artist and designer William Morris founded “The Firm,” otherwise known as the decorative arts firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., which marked a revival in decorative handcrafts at risk of being lost to industrialization and inspired the formation of the Arts & Crafts group. Morris’s work supported the idea that a book could be seen as an integrated work of art in itself, an idea reflected in new periodicals being issued in the mid 1800s that also emphasized the wholly designed book. Various other art movements also continually influenced the art that would come to define the Golden Age. After nearly 200 years in isolation, Japan reopened its borders for trade in the later half of the 19th c. and in 1862 Japanese art was exhibited in Britain for the first time. The flat colors, line work, and asymmetrical compositions seen in many artists’ work throughout the Golden Age are derived from the influence of Japanese prints and woodcuts. As an alternative to the Victorian era and Arts & Crafts movement, Japanese art profoundly affected European art of the late 19th c.

Edmund Evans, an English engraver and printer whose contemporaries include John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll, and Beatrix Potter, published his first color printing, a children’s book, in 1865, revolutionizing the printing industry once again. Advances in printing technology in the 1880s and 90s and the industrial revolution created new opportunities for illustrators, changing the way illustration was exhibited and made available to the public. Mass production along with the invention of high speed presses and the steam powered rotary press cut printing time in half, allowing millions more copies to be produced per day.

The development of new photomechanical processes such as the half tone plate in the early 1880s increased the ability to accurately reproduce monochrome and color prints. With the use of photography, size restrictions on drawings were banished, allowing drawings to be resized to fit the block for engraving. Artists were no longer required to draw their pieces to scale for the sake of the finished product. Unlike printing processes which reproduced only solid colors, the half tone plate, aptly named for its ability to pick up grays and ‘half tones,’ was able to produce gradations and tonal variations. This was achieved by photographing the desired image through a glass screen that had been etched with lines crossing at right angles and at 45 degree angles to the edge of the plate, much like the pattern of wire seen in window screens. The minute dots formed in the printing plate by these crossing lines served as a diaphragm for light to pass through onto a negative of the copy. Light passing through the dots produced larger and smaller spots on the negative based on the relative lightness or darkness of the original. Once the negative became transferred, the dots, which essentially converged to create a solid color, gave the image entirely smooth gradations of tone.

With the emergence of this new technology, color printing became even more efficient. Before the half tone plate, only solid blocks of the three primary process colors, cyan, magenta, and yellow, along with the complementary colors they produced, could be printed. With half toning, these three colors plus black, known cumulatively as CMYK, were each printed on a separate plate and, through layering, were able to produce a full continuous range of colors. This new four-color CMYK printing process was able to capture paint, color, and mark, liberating artists from working solely with pen & ink. Early reproductive techniques had limited artists to black & white linear methods that could be used for wood cuts, wood engravings, and copper plate engravings, but these new technologies opened up a new range of possibilities, allowing artists to derive styles from contemporary painting instead of the traditional methods of drawing. The lines between illustration and easel painting began to blur.

Along with the new, more sophisticated and efficient printing technologies, postwar improvements in rail systems led to more widespread, easy distribution of publications. This combination of increased availability and improved reproduction made it possible for illustration to emerge as a more distinguished means of communicating ideas. Rather than remaining auxiliary to the text it was accompanying, illustration’s purport began to take on a more leading role in expressing the ideas and interests of the times. And while illustration in periodicals and magazines made images with text something easily accessible to the general public, the way it was presented and marketed managed to increase the esteem held for it, rather than lose value as a commodity. Illustrated gift books, highly embellished and lavishly decorated books that were works of art in themselves, became popularized in Europe during the 1840s. These books, which were more expensive than other mass produced publications, preserved the integrity of the illustrated book when it could easily have fallen victim to the commodification most other materials subject to the same widespread availability faced.

Cultural Background in America

In America, the turn of the century marked a period of cultural transformation and an increased self-confidence in the nation as a whole. The uncertainty that characterized America during the 19th c., at that point hardly a century old, began to dissipate by 1900. Feelings of insecurity towards the stability of a newfound nation gave way to a sense of pride in its demonstrated success thus far. The increase in demand for pictures and the optimistic philosophy that characterized the Golden Age paralleled the development of the nation. As America became convinced of its own historical importance, the illustration that simultaneously developed reflected and encouraged this sense of confidence.

Technological advancements had reached a point where printed material as a form of entertainment was still fresh and had not yet been eclipsed by radio or television, and photography was still in its infancy as a way displaying still images. Literacy became nearly universal among middle-income families. As literacy and the availability of education expanded across social classes, reading as the primary source of entertainment was at its peak, and was met with an accommodating response from authors and illustrators. Such an increase in the demand for publications equated to an increase in opportunities for illustrators.

In the early 1800s, illustration was merely an intermediary to a career in painting. But as the Civil War produced a higher demand for newspapers and magazines as families at home were eager to hear news from the front-lines, the hiring of artists to visually document the progression of the war transformed illustration into a profession. The term “Special Artist” was coined to describe these artist-reporters. After the Civil War, the demand for graphic depictions of events did not diminish, but rather extended beyond the war to include other current events, local and worldwide, political and social issues, and images of popular fashions and hairstyles of the time. Americans expected a certain level of information to be made available to the general public through various periodicals and magazines. The illustration that fulfilled these requirements flooded contemporary publications.

Before the Civil War, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, which appeared in 1850, and Harper’s Weekly in 1857, were two of the earliest instances where periodicals started relying heavily on visual material. The idea of the “penny book” originated in England, enforcing William Morris’s idea of the totally designed book by giving equal consideration to both text and image and how it related to the integrated whole. While the quantity of these publications was limited, their significance lies in the new concepts and styles that would be introduced to illustrators and publishers and that would later be improved and expanded upon with the new influx of periodicals after the Civil War. In America the introduction of the “dime novel” caused a revolution in American reading and publishing during the 1860s and 70s as well. In 1860, brothers Erastus and Irwin Beadle, inspired by the same sense of nationalism that struck the rest of the nation at the turn of the century, generated the idea of creating novels about America by America, and selling them for the affordable price of 10 cents under the name of “Beadle’s New Dime Novels.”

As advancements in printing technology increased the availability and quality of printed material and the Civil War sparked a demand for more reading material and published news, the illustrated monthly gained momentum and popularity. Following suit of Beadle’s dime novels and as a response to this demand for more printed material, Scribner’s magazine was introduced in 1887 to compete with Harper’s, becoming the first to include color illustrations since the introduction of color printing in the 1860s. In 1888 Collier’s Weekly, another rival, was founded. In 1897 The Saturday Evening Post was resurrected to rival Harper’s Weekly, which would showcase many big-name artists’ work throughout the Golden Age and solidify their careers, perhaps most notably Leyendecker and Rockwell. In 1893 McClure’s Magazine was founded, an immediate success at 15 cents a copy. Scribner’s Monthly was renamed as The Century, and it, along with Harper’s Monthly and Scribner’s Magazine, were among the leading periodicals of the time. By 1903, eighty-five percent of magazine circulation was indebted to periodicals selling for ten cents or less.

Because the industry was so competitive, publishers sought after the best illustrators to create a unique and distinguishable ‘look’ for their publications that would attract customers. Advertisers competed against each other to hire the best illustrators to promote their products. Collier’s and Ladies Home Journal were among the publications to adopt larger format magazines, the standard size seen today, as a result of advertisers’ demand to run bigger ads. Before this ‘cheap magazine’ revolution of the 1890s, literature was mostly directed towards a privileged elite and was intellectual in nature. Now that mass production and higher literacy rates necessitated the need for less demanding literature that appealed to a wider array of people, a shift towards more lighthearted, entertaining literature occurred. This type of writing lent itself more to illustration than did the more intelligent literature that previously dominated. Prior to 1870, children’s literature was also too serious and lacked any real substance. However, from 1870 on society began to recognize the needs of children as different from those of adults and started to write with a more realistic attitude towards child development in mind. With books being written that appealed more to children, illustrations that corresponded to this need were also more in demand.

In conjunction with the amount of American publications being produced, the content of these publications and the images that filled them reflected the priorities and interests of the people being advertised to. Shorter working hours and new labor-saving inventions in the home and workplace allowed for more leisure time. The general economic stability of the nation that permitted an increase in salaries and decrease in the cost of living left Americans searching for new ways to spend their time and money. Sports became a popular recreational activity and a rise in the popularity of sports magazines saw a rise in illustrations depicting these subjects. Following the newfound sense of pride instilled in many Americans at the end of the 19th c. was an interest in establishing distinctly American traditions as a way of celebrating holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast, who visualized the look of the popular Santa Claus icon still prevalent today, were among the popular illustrators of these holidays. The illustrated gift book appeared in America as a way to commemorate new holiday traditions. While illustrations of leisurely activities such as sports would eventually come to be replaced by photography, the staying power of holiday illustration and continued success of these gift books may be attributed to a kind of sentiment evoked through them unable to be replicated with photography.

If illustration was a mirror of the culture and personality of the time, then it also delineated the lives of the rich and poor in urban areas, trying to show the reality of the hardships of the lower class from a sympathetic standpoint and broadcast the glamourous lives of the upper class using a mix of humor and social satire. As society started to pay more attention to the behaviors and fashions of the wealthier upper class as something to be admired and emulated, illustrators and reporters were employed to make this depiction of the social elite available to the public, in some early form of what would now be considered tabloids. Among the upper class, the wealthy vied for social status and recognition, and the reporter-illustrator was enlisted to document the latest fashions and hairstyles to showcase to those not part of this elite. A popular example of this type of illustration is Charles Dana Gibson’s “Gibson Girl,” a perfect example of the ‘ideal’ standard he created for women of the time.

Illustrators themselves were among some of these social elite, earning their wealth and recognition through their careers in illustration. The average illustrator earned around $4,000 per year, while more popular ones had the potential for between $10,000 and $75,000, considered extremely wealthy by the standards of the day. Illustrators enjoying this high profile status frequently socialized with each other, developing a strong sense of community amongst themselves. Before 1900, when illustrators sold drawings to publishers, they forfeited the reproduction rights and original drawings along with them. So it comes as no surprise that as illustrators started gaining recognition, publishers began selling the works for a profit while the illustrators received none of the royalties. In 1900 a group of disgruntled illustrators met to discuss these complaints and in 1901 formed the Society of Illustrators. Some of the original members include William T. Smedley, who would become the first President of the Society, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, and William Glackens. In 1905 the Society began admitting women and in 1921 became incorporated. Its intent was to provide an organization where illustrators were able to discuss the business aspect of their careers and to provide a social atmosphere that allowed friendships among illustrators to develop. Many other societies and organizations that originated at the turn of the century would have similar goals. Around the time of the formation of the Society, Howard Pyle gathered his students in Chadds Ford, PA, into what would come to be known as the Brandywine School. The Franklin Inn Club (est. 1902) was aimed at bringing together authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers, and included members like Howard Pyle, Thornton Oakley, George Hardey, and George Gibbs. Many other clubs also originated in New York, including the Salamungdi Club, the Lamb’s Club, the Watercolour Society, Tile Club, and Dutch Treat Club. In Connecticut the Knocker’s Club was the basis for the Silvermine Artists’ Guild. Female illustrators who were often restricted access to these all-male fraternities formed their own clubs, like the Plastic Club in Pennsylvania. Jesse Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Greene, and Violet Oakley of the Red Rose Girls might even be considered something of an informal organization.

Surrounding Art Movements in Europe

It can certainly be inferred that the major illustrators were a well-educated group. Their knowledge of the surrounding economic market as well as contemporary and previous art movements should not be overlooked. Especially in regards to the latter, the influence of these preceding movements had a profound impact on both the style and subject of many Golden Age illustrators. To gain a better understanding of the context within which the Golden Age occurred, it is worth taking a closer look at a few specific movements in particular.

One of the most important artistic occurrences preceding the Golden Age was the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Founded in 1849 by seven young English artists, among whom John Everett Millais was included, the group sought to correct a detrimental trend that they believed was occurring among the established art scene of the day. The group was reacting specifically to the Royal Academy of Arts and what the Brotherhood observed as a mechanistic and soul-less teaching of art. Considered in the context of the fledgling Industrial Revolution in both Europe and America, a growth in technology that epitomized efficient, standardized reproduction, the Brotherhood's concern seems well founded and somewhat prophetic. The Brotherhood bore their name from Raphael, whom they believed to be the height of influence for the academic manner of painting that they sought to distance themselves from. They believed that the strict tendency towards only classical poses and methods of compositions greatly hindered an artist's creativity and kept the arts from ever reaching its most true and beautiful apex. This debate was part of a broader struggle between ideas of Neoclassicism and its antithesis, Romanticism. While the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood would certainly not be included with the Neoclassical movement, they would also not fit exactly within the ideas of Romanticism. Rather, the Brotherhood looked all the way back to medieval art. To the Brotherhood, the work of this time represented a mystical and spiritual integrity that they believed to have been stamped out by the rote method of academic drawing. The importance of individual responsibility and personal creative integrity was a major goal of theirs. Medieval work tended to be mostly illustrations of Biblical subjects. This was important to the Brotherhood because it helped establish the relationship of the artist to literature, a connection that would later be strengthened by Golden Age illustrators. At the time, most medieval peoples were illiterate and depended on pictorial interpretations to communicate ideas. This would have an effect on the Brotherhood who took many of their subjects from mythology and contemporary literature. Some of the authors whose works were illustrated included the Romantic poet John Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson as in shared subject of "The Lady of Shallot", and Shakespeare as in Millais' famous "Ophelia". These authors worked with themes that the Brotherhood believed to be genuine and integral to all human life.

The effect of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood on the Golden Age of Illustration is substantial. In a time before the effect of Modernism would eradicate all doctrines of painting, the Pre-Raphaelites expanded the limits of the formal elements of painting, as well as subject matter. This would, later, allow the illustrators of the Golden Age to experiment with shape, form, and composition to best serve the interest of their subjects.

The Pre-Raphaelites were not the only artists that influenced Golden Age illustrators. Another integral movement, one whose influence reaches all the way to Art Nouveau, and whose doctrines manifested from the evolution of the Pre-Raphaelites was the Arts and Crafts Movement. Spurred on by William Morriss and D.G. Rossetti (the latter of which was a founding member of the PRB), the Arts and Crafts movement also felt the need for a return to a more medieval center of inspiration. In Europe, the Victorian age ushered in prosperity and peace unlike anything in the living memory of those living in England. This coupled with the, seemingly, unstoppable force of industry changed a section of the cultural mentality to one of decadence and excess. This manifested itself in a style that was cluttered and packed with as much detail as one could muster. To Morriss, this distanced the work from the human element of craft, specifically the individual who was not part of Victorian high society. Morriss opened up his own art guild set upon the foundation that the worker was not treated as only a means to an end, but with the proper respect that one so gifted and talented deserves. This, inversely, placed a high level of responsibility on the craftsmen to uphold their own standard of quality in the work they produced. There is a strong similarity between the works being done by this group and the intricate and handcrafted illuminated manuscripts, especially those of the 15th century. Books done in the Gothic style were completely unique because of the lack of proper printing technology. For this reason, the guilds that reproduced such hand painted books such as Books of Hours, Gospels, and Psalters enforced a strict standard of craftsmanship.

The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement can be seen in beginnings of the European Golden Age in the work of Walter Crane (1845 – 1915), a children’s book illustrator. As a young child, Crane was so talented that he began working with an engraver at 13. Crane’s pages were as much design as illustration. Like many of the artists considered part of the Arts and Crafts movement, every detail of the page was considered, from the main scene to the text and ornamentation. The compositions of his page layout resemble the “bordering” in illuminated manuscripts, filled with finely wrought animals, plants, and figures. Another factor contributing to his unique style was his attempt to emulate the hand-printed look of Japanese woodblock prints, of which Europe was newly becoming aware. His most well known books of the time included Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a children’s version of Aesop’s Fables.

However, if Walter Crane was considered a young talent in engraving, then Gustave Dore (1832-1883) truly deserves the title of prodigy. By the age of 16, Dore was the highest paid illustrator in all of France. His maturity of skill also reflected his intellect as some of his first literary illustrations were for Rabelais. The influence of the Pre-Raphaelites is quite evident in the sublime nature of his scenes, often sweeping, beautiful, and slightly haunting images. His seeming determination to the naturalism of his depiction of nature with attention to every detail is a staple of Pre-Raphaelite work as well. When looking over a body of Dore’s work, it’s hard not to notice how varied his compositions are. Dore pushed the limits of image making and story telling through his clumping of figures, extreme horizon lines, graphic areas of dark and light, use of drastic perspective systems, and the vastness of his landscape. He illustrated his own version of the Bible that became so popular that it has had nearly 1000 editions printed. Dore was published almost entirely in Europe besides for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, which was his only U.S. publication.

As the European Golden Age was in its prime, so was Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). At a young age he, as most of us MICA illustrations seem to, struggled with a personal style. This problem of visual maturity is interesting in the wake of the Pre-Raphaelites in that there was more and more freedom when it came to making an image. This freedom, coupled with an ability to work in many styles, was initially a hindrance for Rackham, but one that would ultimately benefit him. Elements of naturalism can be seen in many of Rackham’s landscapes in the subtlety of tone and attention to minutiae. Rackham was also conscious of the revival of medievalism as evident in both his subject matter and craftsmanship. Also, in a less obvious way, Rackham references marginalia of medieval illuminated manuscripts in his activation of the borders of his pages with small scenes and figures. Rackham would start his career in the editorial field, writing and illustrating for periodicals. Later, with the massive success of Rip Van Winkle (one of the first books to use tipped-in plates), Rackham would help forge the popular phenomenon of gift books with his own version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales among others. He also illustrated Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an author who was a popular source of inspiration among the Pre-Raphaelites.

Being 15 years younger than Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) began his career, as the advances in printing were really beginning to blossom into accurate and efficient methods. Tipped-in plates printed in the color-separation method were becoming standard practice for most successful publishing companies. Originally from France, Dulac moved to England and was commissioned his first illustration there at the age of 22. Unlike Rackham, whose outlined style was partly to cover up the mis-registration of colors, Dulac was able to forgo this last step and leave his illustrations much more painterly. His connection to both the Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts movement is clear in his high amount of surface detail, especially fabric. Also, like Walter Crane, Dulac was heavily influence by the increasing influx of Japanese prints coming to Europe. This influence would later take over his career as he began to move to a more stylized approach. His version of Arabian Nights became very popular and his continued in this orientalist tradition with The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Like many before him, he also illustrated Shakespeare.

Of the great European Golden Age illustrators, Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) is one of the youngest. His age shows in his influence as well. Rather than looking to the romantic work of the Pre-Raphaelites, Nielsen was more influence later trends in the Arts and Crafts movement as well as by artists like Aubrey Beardsley. Nielsen’s more modern approach was grounded in the 20th century as he would draw from Japanese woodblocks as well as the beginnings of Art Nouveau. In one of his most famous books, East of the Sun West of the Moon, the reference to Japanese painting is unmistakable. This influence couple with graphic pattern and composition defined a new direction in illustration.

Europe vs. America

Throughout the 19th century, the Golden Age of illustration in America was greatly affected and fueled by the Golden Age in Europe. While the European Golden Age is distinct from that of the United States, there was still a great deal of interchange between them. The influence of specific artists and broader art movements in Europe can be seen in American artists’ work and the expertise they brought back to the U.S. after traveling abroad and returning with a European education.

American artists dissatisfied with the training provided to them by American art schools traveled to Europe in search of a more comprehensive education. The standard in most American art schools was to begin drawing from plaster casts before being introduced to the live model. Contrastingly, life drawing began right away in European schools. As in many schools rooted in the classical European tradition, the figure was used as a reference for the creation of a classical ideal. American artist Benjamin West (1738-1820) was at the forefront of this new trend, becoming the first American painter to complete his art education in Europe. He would eventually settle in London and open his studio up to other American painters, eager for the same kinds of opportunities as him. West, who would later become the President of the Royal Academy of London, paved the way for American artists seeking new opportunities abroad. One of West’s own students, Charles Willson Peale, brought the teachings he acquired back with him to the U.S. when he founded the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1805.

The effect of this European influence can be seen among many notable American illustrators’ works. German born J.C. Leyendecker, who moved with his family to Chicago when he was eight, was among the group of American artists who traveled to Europe for an education. J.C. and his brother F.X. Leyendecker studied at the Académie Julian in 1896 where artists such as Bonnard, Matisse, Vuillard, Duchamp, and Mucha would later study, located in Paris, the then capital of the art world, and returned after two years of study to work in the U.S. Artists traveling to Europe and returning to the United States with newfound experiences and knowledge was not uncommon. Other artists following suit included Lynd Ward, who studied at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic Arts for a year where he was taught wood engraving by Hans Alexander Mueller. Here also Ward was exposed to the techniques of other artists exploring ideas of storytelling without words, which Ward would apply to some of his most well-known works such as Gods’ Man. Violet Oakley of the Red Rose Girls was one of the few privileged women illustrators to study in Paris in 1895.

Artistic and literary movements that originated in Europe and would come to influence American art include Symbolism and Art Nouveau. Art nouveau, a revolution in the decorative arts, made its sudden appearance in America with Penrhyn Stanlaw’s cover of the Sept. 17 1896 issue of Life magazine. The trend of decorative, linear drawings seen in many subsequent artists’ work, especially from communities of women artists who often collaborated with each other, can be directly attributed to the French art nouveau movement. Aubrey Beardsley was an important influence on American illustrators. Symbolism, a European literary movement, arose as an opposition to rationalism and an attempt to express what was thought to be inexpressible with the use of symbol and metaphor. The use of symbols and allusions can be seen in the work of early Howard Pyle around the mid 1890s as well as Maxfield Parrish and other American artists.

Specific artists, along with these general art movements, contributed to the exchange of artistic ideas between Europe and America. Walter Crane, an English artist, provided a direct connection between European and American illustration of the 1880s and 90s, drawing influence from the Pre-Raphaelites as well as Japanese art, which first appeared in Europe in 1862. George Cruikshank (1792-1878), a London-born British artist who was a contemporary of John Tenniel and James Gillray, also served as an enormous influence on illustrators of the 20th c. Cruikshank’s versatility is evidenced in the broad range of work he accomplished throughout his career. While known best for his caricatures and book illustrations, the emphasis of his work shifted frequently from political commentary and social satire to work for magazines, comics, and novels. His illustrations for the first English translation of the Grimm Brothers’ German Popular Stories paved the way for the Golden Age of children’s book illustration and overall, his career prepared the way for the golden age of journalism that took place after the mid century. Cruikshank’s influence can be traced through the work of American artists such as Arthur Frost, Charles Dana Gibson, and early Howard Pyle. The expressive pen work of European artists Hablot K. Browne and John Leech also had a direct influence on both European and American naturalist illustration of the 19th c.

The impact of American artists who traveled to Europe for their schooling and returned to the U.S. more experienced and accustomed to working from live models not only affected the work done by these artists and the emphasis on figuration, but the demand for live models as reference changed the illustrators’ relationship with the publishers they sought work from and indirectly altered the business of illustration. While previously, illustrators were kept on staff at publication houses, publishers began hiring freelance to avoid the cost of having to hire live models. While illustrators were now responsible for hiring and paying for their own models, hiring freelance proved beneficial for both the artist and the publisher. Publishers could change illustrators frequently, introducing new styles and artists into their publications, and illustrators were free to accept assignments from various publishers, increasing the breadth of their work. Illustrators who started to specialize in certain types of work gave art directors a new factor to consider when hiring artists for work. The new process of hiring freelance also enabled more women to pursue a career in illustration while managing a home and raising a family.

The Golden Age in America

While the artists and illustrators whose names have become synonymous with the Golden Age of Illustration are not bound to any one place, and are certainly quite spread out across the globe as a whole, one absolutely cannot deny the importance of the location of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and in particular, the Brandwine River area. Not only for the importance of artists such as Maxfield Parish or NC Wyeth, but for the sheer number of talented and recognizable illustrators that emerged from the appropriately named, "Brandywine School" during this point in time. Even more than the location itself, the importance of one person cannot be underestimated, because talking about the Brandywine School is to talk about the Father of American Illustration, himself, Howard Pyle. Born in 1853 in Wilmington, Delaware, was an illustrator, a writer, and most importantly, a teacher and mentor to an abundance of young illustrators.
Howard Pyle's style can directly be attributed to the work of Winslow Homer, as this is the artist who most influenced him. Homer had no formal art training, but was instead taught by his artistic mother, Henriette Homer. He created line art drawings from photographs for Harper's Weekly, who unfortunately, often did not cite their illustrators, making it somewhat difficult to tell, even to this day, which pieces were created by Homer, and which were not. The main qualities that were attributed with these early works are clean outlines, stylized, simplified forms, dramatic light and dark contrast, and lively figure groupings. These would remain things that would be significant in his work, even into his later works. In 1861, Harper's sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War, where he did sketches of the things he saw, ranging from the armies and commanders to the horrors of war. While these drawings did not gain much notoriety, they are significant in that this is the period where Homer's art changed greatly. He honed his skills in this time, and upon finishing, he began a career as a painter. Many of his initial paintings were based on his numerous drawings from his time spent on the front lines, including Sharpshooter on Picket Duty (1862), Home, Sweet Home (1863), and Prisoners from the Front (1866). These were very well received by critics, one writing, "Winslow Homer is one of those few young artists who make a decided impression of their power with their first contributions to the Academy… He at this moment wields a better pencil, models better, colors better, than many whom were it not improper, we could mention as regular contributors to the Academy." Quite possibly the most noteworthy thing about Homer's work is that he is not a master of any one medium, but works extensively in a large variety, including wood engraving, watercolor, and oil paints.
Winslow Homer's knowledge of design, his mastery of composition and color, and ability to create drama were things that could be attributed to his work during any period, and these were the things that would go on to influence Howard Pyle, and eventually to NC Wyeth, and others taught by Pyle at the Brandywine school. Pyle would become primarily a painter, and go on to incorporate many of the stylistic things that made Homer stand out, including lively figure groupings and a great understanding of light and dark contrast. His majors works include classic tales such as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, and original stories he wrote himself, such as Otto of the Silver Hand and The Wonder Clock. He made work primarily for a young audience, and when doing Robin Hood, he revised the legends and ballads to make them more appropriate for children, taking out moments where Robin Hood commits murder. He also altered the tales in order to create a cohesive, unified story. For the illustrations, he was not particularly concerned with creating any more historical accuracy than the original tales had, though he did alter a few small details, such as changing the name of the queen in "Robin Hood and Queen Katherine" to Queen Eleanor, who was historically compatible with King Richard the Lion Hearted. Howard Pyle was very well respected during his life, and remains influential to not only illustrators, but other artists as well. A quote from artist Vincent Van Gogh claimed that Pyle's work "…struck me dumb with admiration."
What would come to change the world and illustration on a whole even more than Pyle's artwork itself, was the fact that he is one of the most important and prominent teachers in illustration history. He began teaching in 1953 at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and then started his own school after 1900, called the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art (later called the Brandywine School). He also brought his proteges to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania during the summers between 1898 and 1902. During his time at Drexel, he would teach students such as Frank E Schoonover and Jessie Wilcox Smith, while at his own school and at Chadds Ford, he would teach Thornton Oakley, and most Notably, NC Wyeth. Oakley spoke on Pyle's illustration philosophy, saying, "We never heard one word from our beloved teacher concerning tools and methods. His utterances were only of the spirit, thought, philosophy, ideals, vision, purpose." He went on to say, "Illustration is the highest type of pictorial art …because illustration is simply a pictorial MAKING CLEAR, and if a picture makes clear a message in a big way, it is an illustration, whether it be made for magazine, book, mural decoration, or exhibition."
Quite possibly the most notable of all of Pyle's pupils was NC Wyeth, who attended Pyle's school in 1902. Wyeth was a prolific illustrator, creating over 3,000 paintings and illustrating 112 books. He illustrated a wide variety of topics including pirates, the wild west, and medieval Europe, and he illustrated stories such as Treasure Island (1911), Robin Hood (1917), Robinson Crusoe (1920), Rip Van Winkle (1921), and The White Company (1922). He was first published when he was only 21 years old, by the Saturday Evening Post, doing an image of a bucking bronco for the cover. A year later, the same magazine asked him to do a Western story, and Howard Pyle suggested that he go west to prepare for this job. Wyeth made several trips there, and for a period, created many illustrations having to do with Cowboys and Native Americans. He dramatized the old west, and notably showed the Native Americans in a sympathetic light. Upon returning home, he did a series of farm scenes for Scribner's, drawing inspiration from Winslow Homer's landscape paintings and scenes of Americana. In 1911, Wyeth painted Treasure Island, which would go on to become one of the more well known series of works , not only of Wyeth's, but of the Golden Age of Illustration as a whole. He would continue to illustrate books and create more narrative work, often making pieces that focus on the moment either before or after an important action, as that would build the most tension and drama in his work. Not only did Wyeth create some of the definitive work of the Golden Age of Illustration, but his children, such as Andrew Wyeth went on to become artists and illustrators as well.
Besides Wyeth, a large number of widely successful illustrators came from Pyle's school as well as Drexel Institute. One important group to take note of would be that of Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Violet Oakley, better known as the Red Rose Girls. They studied under Pyle at the Drexel Institute, and in fact, he is who gave them the name of Red Rose Girls, because they all lived together at the Red Rose Inn, in Villanova, Pennsylvania. They lived there from 1899 to 1901, and later moved to Codslea, in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Jessie Wilcox Smith was a prolific illustrator, working in books and magazines, and is most well known for her covers on the women's magazine, Good Housekeeping. Other work of note would be her twelve illustrations for The Water Babies, by Charles Kinglsey. Elizabeth Shippen Green worked in children's books, and in 1911 signed an exclusive contract with Harper's Monthly. Violet Oakley, drawing much inspiration from the Pre-Raphaelites, utilizing color to capture luminosity, was the most politically and socially motivated of the Red Rose Girls. She was a pacifist, a feminist, and a socialist, and strove to reflect her belief in a better world through her art work. She did a number of murals throughout her career for All Angels Church, Cuyahoga County Courthouse, and most notably the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, where she did 43 murals. This was the first time that an American woman artist was given such an important and prestigious public commission. In 1905, she also became the first woman to receive the Gold Medal of Honor from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Even outside of the Brandywine area, though, and outside of Pyle's tutelage, plenty of talented and prolific illustrators came out of the States during the Golden Age of Illustration. One in particular who one can't go without mentioning, is Maxfield Parrish. He was artistic from a very young age, as his father was an engraver and landscape artist, so he was greatly encouraged to pursue art, and his talent was supported immensely. Along with Norman Rockwell, he isn considered one of the most popular and influential illustrators in American history. His technique in particular is something to take into consideration when speaking on the Golden Age. He used a very specific and exact method of glazing, in an attempt to make work that would print as accurately as possible. He laid down colors in separate layers, in the order that they would be put down when printed in magazines. He laid down all of the cyan, then yellow, magenta, and finally black, which today is commonly know as CMYK. Another stylistic trait that is noteworthy is that at an early age, he would often cut out his drawings and place them as cut offs, and some believe that this led to his "diorama" feel to the placement of his figures.
Artists during this period had plenty of sway over the public, and with many of them, whose names might not be as well known today as Pyle or Wyeth, their work lives on. James Montgomery Flagg is especially well-known for being a prominent propaganda artist, creating the famous "I Want You" poster, featuring himself as Uncle Sam. He used himself as a model, adding aging in the image, simply to avoid the trouble of having to get a model. JC Leyendecker, well known for doing a large amount of magazine covers, primarily for the Saturday Evening Post, where he completed 322 covers, was incredibly successful, and until Norman Rockwell, no other artist was so solidly identified with one publication. He helped popularize the modern images of Santa Clause and the New Year's Baby. Besides specific characters, some works of fiction are only as well known as they are because of illustration. Rockwell Kent's illustrated version of Moby Dick helped that book attain the status that it has. He was originally approached to illustrate Two Years Before the Mast, but he suggested Moby Dick instead, which at the time was a somewhat obscure book. Because of the popularity of his illustrated version of the book, it was rediscovered by critics in the 1920's, which assisted it greatly in making it the well known book it is today.
While the majority of the American illustrators mentioned thus far have worked extensively in color, using watercolor, oil, egg tempera, and other forms of paint to achieve great narrative works, not every artist during this time worked in color. Pen and ink was widely popular as well. Charles Dana Gibson worked this way, and became an important figure in the Golden Age of Illustration. Gibson worked in Life Magazine for over 30 years, though his art appeared in all of the major New York publications, Harper's Weekly, Scribners, and Collier's. Most noteworthy about this artist was the creation of the Gibson Girl in 1890. She was meant to personify the ideal woman, and was used to sell a variety of items ranging from tea cups to pillow covers. She was tall, slender, and had her hair piled atop her head to show off her long, "swan-like" neck. Another prominent pen and ink artist, and known even more so for his style, was Franklin Booth. Franklin Booth is quite possibly the most influential pen and ink artist in history, inspiring artists for years to come. Artist Bernie Wrightson has been quoted as saying, "Franklin Booth always will be so much better than practically anyone who ever picked up a pen." Most notable about Booth's style is that he began by copying magazine covers which were wood engravings. He believed them to be pen and ink, so he developed a unique style that is incredibly detailed, has huge scale extremes, and decorative scrolls and borders. One other artist working in a style much removed from the rest of the Golden Age was Lynd Ward, who worked primarily in wood blocks. He created illustrations for many books such as Frankenstein, Faust, and Beowulf, but later moved on to creating work for children. He is notable as his is the first American creator of wordless novels.
Just as advances in printing technology had allowed talented artists to realistically reproduce their work for print, advances in early 20th century photography allowed for more accurate and cheaper reproduction of photos. The reason for the decline of the importance of the illustrator is the same reason for their incline in the first place: new technology. Publications needed to utilize this new technology in order to keep public interest and to keep up their revenues. The American culture was shifting, and with it, the subjects and mediums of image makers. The market for advertisement in fashion, which had once been so influenced by the vision and work of Leyendecker and Charles Dana Gibson, was now shifting to photography. Different sources cite different dates ranging from 1914 to a few years after the end of WWI, and opinions differ greatly as to what other factors may have aided in bringing about the end of the Golden Age. Some speculate that other art movements, such as abstract expressionism, helped draw attention away from the likes of Rockwell Kent or Maxfield Parrish, while others claim that a growing arrogance within the artists themselves created a distaste throughout the people for those in the public eye. Whatever the exact time or reason for the decline, the Golden Age did soon come to an end, though it still stands today as one of the most influential and important times in the History of Illustration. boom! done.

Works Cited

Americans Abroad; J.C. Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence on American Illustration, Museum of American Illustration at the Society of

Illustrators May 21-July 12, 2008. The Society of Illustrators, 2008.

Carter, Alice. The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, The Wonderland Press, 2000.

Cutler, Laurence S. and Judy Goffman Cutler. J.C. Leyendecker. New York: The National Museum of American Illustration, 2008.

Davidson, Rebecca. “Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, & Book Designers.” Princeton University Library, Graphic Arts Collection. 10 Mar 2004.

Princeton University, Library, Web. 11 Nov 2009.


Ermoyan, Arpi. Famous American Illustrators. London: Quantum Publishing Ltd., 2002.

Fort, Megan Holloway. “Rockwell Kent.” Magazine Antiques (1971) 174.6 (2008): 18. Online. Art Full Text. 8 Oct 2009.

“George Cruikshank.” The Wee Web; authors & illustrators archive. The Wee Web, 20 Nov 2009.


Gorton, John F.H. and Fridolf Johnson. The Illustrations of Rockwell Kent. New York:

Dover Publications, Inc., 1976.

Jaeger, William. “Norman Rockwell Museum/Stockbridge: Distant shores: the odyssey of Rockwell Kent.” Art New England 21.6 (2000): 55. Online. Art Full

Text. 8 Oct 2009.

Larson, Judy L. American Illustration 1890-1925; Romance, Adventure, & Suspense. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1986.

Patten, Robert L. “George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art, Volume 1: 1792-1835.” Victorian Studies 38.2 (1995): 279-282. Online. JSTOR. 20 Nov 2009.


Reed, Walt. The Illustrator in America 1860-2000. New York: The Society of Illustrators, 2001.

Schruers, Eric J. “Interpreting the Real and the Ideal: Rockwell Kent’s Lost Bituminous Coal Series Rediscovered.” Southeastern College Art Conference

Review 13.3 (1998): 241-52. Online. Art Full Text. 8 Oct 2009.

THE AMERICAN PERSONALITY; The Artist-Illustrator of Life in the United States, 1860-1930. Los Angeles: The Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, 1976.

The Golden Age of American Illustration 1880-1914, Delaware Art Museum September 14-October 15, 1972. The Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, 1972.

“The Halftone.” Old and Sold Antiques Digest. Antiques Digest, Web. 11 Dec 2009. .

Traxel, David. An American Saga: The Life and Times of Rockwell Kent. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980.

Traxel, David. “Art and Politics in 1912.” Archives of American Art Journal, The Smithsonian Institution. 17.4 (1977): 5-10. Online. JSTOR. 8 Oct 2009.

Vadeboncoeur, Jim. “Lynd Ward.” Been Publishing, I’m Back. 04/12/2002. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Web. 9 Nov 2009. .

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Currier and Ives
    George Henry Durrie
    Frances Palmer
    Charles Parsons
Theodore R. Davis
Felix Octavius Carr Darley
Edwin Forbes
Edward Lamson Henry
Winslow Homer
Eastman Johnson
Moran family - Edward, Thomas, Peter
Thomas Nast
Allen Carter Redwood
Francis H. Schell
William Henry Shelton
William Ludwell Sheppard
Xanthas Russell Smith
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait
Elihu Vedder
Thomas Worth
Alfred Rudolph Waud
William Waud
Edwin Howland Blashfield
Milton J. Burns
Frederick Stuart Church
Julian O. Davidson
Harry Fenn
Mary Hallock Foote
Paul Frenzeny
Charles S. Graham
Howard Helmick
Francis Davis Millet
Fenry Siddons Mowbray
Charles Stanley Reinhart
Henry Sandham
Walter Shirlaw
Francis Hopkinson Smith
Issac Walton Taber
Jules Tavernier
Thure de Thulstrup
Edwin Lord Weeks
Michael Angelo Woolf
Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum
Vernon Howe Bailey
Will H. Bradley
Alfred Laurens Brennan
Walter Appelton Clark
Will Crawford
Frank Vincent DuMond
George Wharton Edwards
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Charles Dana Gibson
Walter Granville-Smith
Jules Guerin
Jay Hambidge
Edward Winsor Kemble
Henry McCarter
Peter Sheaf Newell
Eric Pape
Edward Penfield
Victor Semon Perard
Frederic Sackrider Remington
Alice Barber Stephens
George Edmund Varian
Albert Beck Wenzell
Irving Ramsey Wiles
John Wolcott Adams
Sydney Adamson
Stanley Massey Arthurs
Edmund M. Ashe
Clifford Warren Ashley
William James Aylward
Anna Whelan Betts
Ethel Franklin Betts (Bains)
Harold Matthews Brett
Walter Harrison Cady
William Vincent Cahill
John Cecil Clay
Joseph Clement Coll
J.M. Condé
Fanny Young Corey (Cooney)
Harry Grant Dart
Arthur G. Dove
Harvey Dunn
Thomas Fogarty
George Gibbs
Charles Allan Gilbert
William J. Glackens
Philip R. Goodwin
Elizabeth Shippen Green
Thomas King Hanna
Charlotte Harding
George Matthews Harding
Lucius Wolcott Hitchcock
Gayle Porter Hoskins
Henry Hutt
Oliver Kemp
B. Corey Kilvert
Walt Kuhn
Orson Byron Lowell
Winsor McCay
Guernsey Moore
Francis Louis Mora
Thornton Oakley
Violet Oakley
Frederick Maxfield Parrish
Clara Elsene Peck
Henry Jarvis Peck
Ernest Clifford Peixotto
Herman Pfeifer
Charles M. Relyea
Henry Reuterdahl
Charles Marion Russell
Charles Nicolas Sarka
Remington Schuyler
Frank Earle Schoonover
Everett Shinn
Florence Scovel Shinn
John French Sloan
Dan Smith
Howard Everett Smith
Jessie Willcox Smith
Frederic Dorr Steele
Sarah S. Stilwell (Weber)
Fred Strothmann
Frank Walter Taylor
Harry Everett Townsend
Allan Tupper True
John Scott Williams
George Hand Wright
Newell Convers Wyeth
Frederick Coffay Yohn

Bibliographies of Important Golden Age Illustrators

Maxfield Parrish: 1870-1966 

Born in Philadelphia, Penn. he began drawing for his own amusement as a child. He would often cut out his drawings and place them as cut offs, a habit some believe led to his "diorama" feel to the placement of his figures. His given name was Frederick Parrish but he later adopted the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, Maxfield, as his middle name, and later as his professional name. His father was an engraver and landscape artist, and young Parrish's parents encouraged his talent. Maxfield also took early tutelage from his father. Originally, Maxfield attended school for architecture but dropped out and focuse on art. He attended Haverford College and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He entered into an artistic career that lasted for more than half a century. Behind Norman Rockwell, he is considered one of the most popular and influential artists of the Golden Age.

Books, Magazine, and print published (incomplete):
Eugene Field - "Poems of Childhood"
Kenneth Graham - "Golden Age" and "Dream Days"
Brown and Bigelow Calendars
Harper's Monthly - 1895-1906 (dates of involvement in publication)
Collier's Mag. - 1903-1936
Century Mag. - 1897-1917
Outing Magazine
Life Magazine

Parrish used a very specific and exact method of glazing to achieve his look. In an attempt to preserve color accuracy during printing, Parrish would paint in transparent glazes of process colors with each color being on a separate layer. He laid down the color in the order in which they were printed by the magazine - cyan, yellow, magenta, black. There exist a few paintings which were unfinished works in which you can see the first blue glaze laid down. - Many books go into a lot of detail about specifics of this process including mediums used, method of application, even proper temperature of surface.

Interesting Notes
Used photo reference often - favorite model was Susan Lewin
1896 - he lost a contest held by Century Magazine to J.C. Leyendecker
1897 - wins contest held by Scribner's Magazine
- artist hero was A.B. Frost

Franklin Booth 1874-1948

Booth was born and raised on a farm in Carmel, Indiana. As a boy, he was determined to become an artist. He studied pictures in books and magazines, including Scribner's and Harper's. His unusual technique was the result of a misunderstanding: Booth scrupulously copied magazine illustrations which he thought were pen-and-ink drawings. In fact, they were wood engravings. As a result, this led him to develop a style of drawing composed of thousands of lines, whose careful positioning next to one another produced variations in density and shade. The characteristics of his art were his scale extremes with large buildings and forests looming over tiny figures, decorative scrolls and borders, classic hand lettering and gnarled trees.

Publications: - first recorded publication was in 1907 in Scribner's
The Century Magazine
Everybody's Magazine
Good Housekeeping
House and Garden
Ladies Home Journal

Bulova Watches
Wallace Silver
Etsy Organ
Whitman's Candy
the Red Cross

The Flying Islands of the Night (1913) 
The Prince and the Pauper (1917)
A Hoosier Holiday (1916 -First US travel biography) 
The Poet (1914)
From Death to Life by A. Apukhtin (1917)

Influence on Contemporaries (I copied this from Wiki)

  • "I have always admired the beauty of Franklin Booth's work and regard him as an exponent of the very best in American Illustration". ~Norman Rockwell.[3]
  • "Booth's pen-and-inks have the lush richness of a fine old tapestry plus an exciting imagination". ~ James Montgomery Flagg.[4]
  • "I have always stood spellbound before on of Booth's noble pen paintings. They recall today the Golden Age of American Illustration when such giants as Pyle, Abbey, Remington, and Gibson set a standard hard to reach. Booth earned his place beside such men as These". ~Dean Cornwell.[5]
  • "I still wish I could do a pen drawing the way Franklin Booth handled them. The present-day student who wants quick success should be forced to copy a few of his illustrations just for the discipline. I used to do them just for the love of it". ~ Milton Caniff[6]
  • "Franklin Booth always will be so much better than practically anyone who ever picked up a pen." ~ Bernie Wrightson[7]

Booth often worked with fantasy. A staple of his work is a far removed viewpoint which placed the subject of action in a relatively small portion of the page, allowing for grand, majestic sweeps of view. Architecture and trees are often present in his work.

Rockwell Kent (1882-1971)

Born in Tarrytown, NY to a well-off middle class family, Kent began studying art at the Horace Mann School in New York in 1895. He then attended an outdoor summer art school in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island under the instruction of William Merrit Chase, who, recognizing a talent in Kent, offered him a full scholarship to the New York School of Art. In the early 1900s Kent traveled to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine, Alaska, and Tierra del Fuego, as well as numerous other places that served as the source of inspiration for much of his work/landscapes, and offered an escape from the turmoil he found in NY. As well as being a book illustrator, lithographer, engraver, and writer, Kent's life was characterized by his political activism. Classes taken with Robert Henri at the NY School of Art introduced him to the hardships of members of the lower class and a lifestyle in stark contrast with that of the privileged home Kent had grown up in. By 1908 he had joined the Socialist party as an advocate for social justice, world peace, and civil liberties. He was especially empathetic towards poverty-stricken immigrant workers who had no social programs like food stamps or welfare to provide relief and joined the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). 

Candide (1928)
Moby Dick (1930)
The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (1930)
Salamina (1935)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (1936)
Goethe's Faust (1941)
-also did advertising work for companies such as Steinway & Sons, Rolls-Royce, and the American Car and Foundry Company

 Many of Kent's landscapes are oil paintings, which he attempted to render as realistically as possible, but he his well known for his pen & india ink drawings, which are characterized by bold outlines, solid black areas, and clear tones composed of parallel lines. His techniques were ideal for reproduction/the printed page. He eventually also took up wood engraving and lithography.

Kent would have preferred to live on the outskirts of civilization, in places like Alaska & Tierra del Fuego, which presented him with uncomplicated worlds from which to paint. Many of his paintings are landscapes from places such as these. Many of his works are dramatic scenes of nature. They reflect his own struggles and anguish, and the fate of man as being tragic and solitary in comparison with the vastness of the universe, or possible the nobility of man in the face of this vastness. 

Interesting notes:
Early in his career, Kent would sign works under the pen name Hogarth Jr., not wanting to identify himself as an illustrator. 
He was the first American artist to exhibit work in the Soviet Union, and was black-listed during the McCarthy era. 
Elected to Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1986. 

J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) 

Joseph Christian Leyendecker was born in Germany but moved with his family to Chicago in 1882, when he was 8 years old. At 16 he worked as an unpaid apprentice at a local engraving company and took night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He was later among of group of Americans who would travel to Europe to become classically trained in the art schools of Europe and then return to the U.S. ready to work. Leyendecker studied in Paris with his brother at the Academie Julian. Leyendecker was overall a private man. There are not many records of his life. He attempted to hide his homosexuality for fear it would damage his career as an illustrator. Often, his work has an underlying homoerotic nature to it. 

The Saturday Evening Post (first cover done 1899, produced 320 more over the next 40 yrs. and created famous New Year Baby series)
Arrow Collar Man (received commission in 1905, would continue for 25 years)
^both earned him widespread fame and popularity
Kuppenheimer clothes (similar to Arrow Collar) - another successful advertising campaign
The Century
numerous other magazines and advertising campaigns.

James Montgomery Flagg, John Held, Norman Rockwell (modeled his career and technique off of Leyendecker). Howard Chandly Christi, Coles Phillips, Harrison Fisher

Used unique style of cross hatching w/ a brush and oil paint, known as pochet. 
Leyendecker refused to use photographs as reference. He made all his drawings directly from models, then color paintings from the models, and finally gridded it to the actual scale. This process he called his "picture puzzle" process. He used to smooth oil on the actual model's muscles to enhance the reflective light. His favorite mediums are oil, watercolor, gouache, pencil & ink usually on a white background. He created a medium out of linseed oil and turpentine so the oil dries faster. His technique helped him to achieve what would come to be known as "The Leyendecker Look"

Interesting notes:
Elected to Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1977.
The Arrow Collar man, seen as the American spirit personified, was the first male sex symbol and the first sex symbol of either gender in advertising. 
Charles Beach, Leyendecker's longtime lover, was the model for the arrow collar man, which was the first major branding effort in advertising. 

Howard Pyle

March 5, 1853 - November 9, 1911
primarily did books for young audiences
1894 he began teaching illustration at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry
after 1900 he founded the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art (later called the Brandywine school)
famous students include Oliver Rush, NC Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Elenor Abbott, Ellen Bernard, Thomas Pyle, and Jessie Wilcox Smith

Important Works - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883), Otto of the Silver Hand (1888, original work), works in Harper's Weekly and St. Nicholas Magazine, Men of Iron

traveled to Florance, Italy to study mural painting in 1910, and died there in 1911 of Bright's disease

influenced by Winslow Homer

NC Wyeth
    NC Wyeth: A Biography

born Needham, Massachusetts
He went to Mechanics Arts School to learn drafting, and then the Massachusetts Normal Arts School and the Eric Pape School of Art to learn illustration, under George Loftus Noyes and Charles W. Reed.
When two of his friends were accepted to Howard Pyle's School of Art in Wilmington, Delaware and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Wyeth was invited to try to join them in 1902.
He probably picked up his glazing technique from Pyle.
A bucking bronco for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on February 21, 1903 was Wyeth's first commission as an illustrator. He was 21 years old.

Mowing (1907)
Long John Silver and Hawkins (1911)
The Great Train Robbery (1912)
The Fence Builders (1915)
The Scottish Chiefs (1921)
The Giant (1923)
Apotheosis of the Family (1932)
Dying Winter (1934)
The Alchemist (1938)
Deep Cover Lobster (1939)
The War Letter (1944)
Nightfall (1945)

Years Active - 1903-1945

Subject Matter - Native Americans (visited Navajo and drew from personal interactions with them to create his paintings)

Died in an accident at a railroad crossing at age 62

Lynd Ward (1905-1985)

An American artist, Lynd Ward was born in Chicago and grew up in Chicago and the Canadian wilderness. He is best known for his woodcut prints and illustrated children's books. In 1926 he graduated from Columbia U. with a major in fine arts, married May McNeer and traveled to Europe for a year. During this time, he studied at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic Arts in Germany where he was introduced to wood engraving by Hans Alexander Mueller. He was also exposed to the work of Belgian artist Frans Masereel and German artist Otto Nuckel, who were exploring storytelling through pictures and no words in their work. Inspired, Ward illustrated the novel Gods' Man (1929), told entirely using woodcut pictures, which first gained him recognition. Ward was later established as the first American creator of wordless novels. He also became established as one of the first artists to express a philosophy of illustrating children's books because of his interest in bookmaking and attention to craftsmanship and the look of the book as a whole (integrated type and pictures). Throughout the 40s and 50s his focus was illustrated children's books, often collaborating with his wife. In 1973 he returned to the 'story w/o words' with The Silver Pony, done in lithograph. 

Other publications:
(In addition to Gods' Man, produced 5 additional novels in woodcuts by 1937):
-Mad Man's Drum
-Wild Pilgrimage 
-Prelude to a Million Years
-Song Without Words
Also illustrated wood-engraved editions of:
-Now That the Gods are Dead
-and more
in early 60s, illustrations often appear in Boy's Life 
Beowulf (1939)
won a Newbery Medal in 1944 for Johnny Tremain 
won a Caldecott Medal in 1953 for The Biggest Bear (1952)

Interesting notes:
In first grade he decided he wanted to be an artist because he discovered that Ward was "draw" spelled backwards. 

Red Rose Girls (Elizabeth Shippen Green, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Violet Oakley)

American artists Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Violet Oakley all met while studying under Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute in PA. They became lifelong friends, and shared a studio where they all lived and worked together for 8 years along with their friend Henrietta Cozens (who cooked, gardened, and ran the household). Pyle dubbed them the "Red Rose Girls" because of the place they lived during that time, the Red Rose Inn in Villanova, PA. Art institutions for women were scarce during the 19th c. It was expected that women would marry and, if lucky and wealthy enough, received only a "fashionable education." The women, isolated from the community of male artists that was presented with more education and opportunity at that time, managed to liberate themselves from domestic distractions, but create a supportive environment for the three artists through their close friendship. Many women in Pyle's school collaborated, leading them to approach assignments in similar ways. A strong linear drawing to start was then filled in with flat, decorative color. The influence of Japanese decorative art and French art nouveau is visible in much of their work. Smith and Oakley began to collaborate when Pyle recommended them for their first important commission: a series of illustrations for Henry Longfellow's Evangeline (1897). Eventually Elizabeth Green married, and the Red Rose Girls disbanded. 

Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935)
Before pursuing a career in the arts, Smith was a kindergarden teacher. After deciding that she wasn't cut out for teaching, Smith decided to pursue an artistic career, after encouragement from a friend who had seen a few drawings she'd done. In 1884 she attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (founded in 1844 by Sarah Peter, but very conservative with a focus on decorative pattern & ornament) but in 1885 switched to the Philadelphia Academy for Fine Arts, the only school in Philadelphia that offered rigorous training for women students who were serious about art. She then studied at the Drexel Institute, under the direction of Howard Pyle. She knew however, she wanted to do something involving children, and eventually resolved to painting them. She never married, but is known for her paintings of mothers, babies, and children and also did commissioned portraits of children throughout her career. Some of her best known illustrations are for works such as Little Women, Heidi, A Book of Old Stories, & Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. Smith also did many illustrations for Collier's and McLure's and nearly 200 covers for Good Housekeeping. In 1915 she received a Silver Medal award at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Her work is described as "more romantic than realistic", her own dislike of conflict manifested in her "idealistic and often joyous paintings." 

Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954)

Green was born in Philadelphia, 8 years after Smith. She studied at PAFA w/ Thomas Eakins from 1889-1893, 8 years after Jessie Wilcox Smith. She also studied with Pyle at the Drexel Institute, where she met Smith. She did some early illustrations for Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post and for many years was under an exclusive contract with Harper's Monthly. Her work has been likened to stain glass windows, containing bold outlines that were perfect for reproduction. Later she married Huger Elliot, breaking up the Red Rose Girls.

Violet Oakley (1874-1961)
The youngest of the trio, Oakley came from a family of artists and so took classes at Art Students League and spent several months in England and France under the instruction of Edmund Aman Jean. She traveled to Paris in 1895. However her trip was cut short due to her father's health, and she returned to the states to attend PAFA and studied under Cecilia Beaux. After only one semester however, in 1897, she enrolled in Howard Pyle's illustration class at the Drexel Institute. While Pyle helped her gain illustration assignments, she preferred to work with stain glass and on a larger, decorative scale. Her largest commission was given in 1902, to do 18 murals for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. This was the first time an American woman artist had been given such a prestigious public commission. She also spent several months in Geneva, Switzerland after the formation of the League of Nations in 1927, recording sessions and making portraits of the participants. She won many awards and an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Drexel Institute in 1948.

Walter Crane - British (1845-1915)
-considered parts of the arts/crafts movement
-greatly influenced by pre-raphaelite brotherhood
-famous english children's book illustrator.
-apprenticed with an engraver at age 13.
-influenced by Japanese prints and medieval composition 
    -associated with Pre-Raphaelite in similar influence
    -mimic-d japanese printing technique - created a new fashion
-Spenser, Hawthorne’s “Wonder Book” and Grimm’s “Fairy Tales.”
-emulated hand printing tech

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
-began steady work at a paper as a reporter and illustrator
-struggled with a style 
-looking to the romantic school of art for inspiration
-1905's Rip Van Winkle marked his "flowering" as the illustrator that is remembered
    -sensuous line
    -gnarled roots, trees
    -hidden drawings
"His drawings would convey a non-threatening yet fearful thrill and a beauty that was in no way overtly sexy or lewd. It was a perfect Victorian solution and he seems to have taken to it with an impish delight."
-peak career 1908-1911

Charles Rennie Mackintosh - architect
    -Glasgow school of Art
    -seen as a huge influence on Art Noveau

Kay Nielsen - 
-was influenced from the start by the more "modern" styles of Beardsley, Burne-Jones and the influx of Japanese art that was spreading to the West at this time.
-japanese print influence - composition, color
    -heavy influence of arts and crafts movement - pattern especially
    -Art Nouveau and The Birmingham School influenced him - exemplified by Jessie M. King
   -Birmingham School of Municipal Art -It specialised in the applied arts, and became very influential and renowned for its teaching of             metalwork, jewellery, enamels, design and book illustration. It aimed to raise the general level of commercial design in the country, and as         well as artists, the student population included designers, artisans, builders and architects.

Edmund Dulac-1882-1953
-only Kay Nielsen was younger - generation of N.C. Wyeth, Joseph Clement Coll
-began his career just at the beginning of consolidated-tipped in- printing techniques
-around 1913, style shifts to a more "oriental" approach

General History

*so here's all the information i've gathered so far...this is all from the three library books listed on the links page...i tried to break it up in to sections/topics, but feel free to add or edit things!*

Golden Age of Illustration (1880-1914)

Factors Influencing/Contributing to the Rise of the Golden Age:

Before 1880
  • In the late 18th c. Thomas Bewick perfected the process of wood engraving. This became widely used in illustration because it was more efficient than copper & steel plate etching.
  • ^Then, the engraver was considered more important than the illustrator. They had more control over the finished product because it relied on the engraver's ability to interpret drawings given to them by illustrators and transfer them to the block. 
  • In 1861 William Morris founded "The Firm" - his decorative artwork revived handcrafts in danger of being lost to industrialization and inspired the formation of the Arts & Crafts group. Also supported the idea that a book could be seen as an integrated work of art in itself. 
  • Japan, after almost 200 years of isolation, re-opened its borders for trade in the last half of the 19th c.
  • In 1862, Japanese art was shown in Britain for the first time. Flat colors, asymmetric compositions, shallow spaces, feeling of openness in Japanese art & woodcuts had a profound influence on Euro. art of late 19th c. and offered an alternative to Victorian & decorative art.
  • Edmund Evans' (English engraver/printer who worked with authors/illustrators like Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, & John Tenniel) first color printing was published in 1865.
  • By 1840s Philadelphia emerged as an "important manufacturing center for textiles, wallpapers, floor coverings, upholstered furniture, and publications." Decorative artists became in demand to embellish these products. In 1844 Sarah Peter founded the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, a conservative institute with an emphasis on decorative pattern and ornament. In 1885 the only school in Philadelphia to offer serious training for women art students was PAFA. 
  • Implementation of American Copyright Act (1790? - first one in U.S.) encouraged the use of local talent/stopped custom of re-engraving drawings by foreign artists and using them in American publications 

Advances in Printing Technology/the Industrial Revolution: 
  • Mass production and the development of high speed presses and the rotary press meant illustrations could be printed in half the time. 
  • Development of the half-tone plate in 1880s/90s led to monochrome and later color printing, freeing the artist from the pen & ink medium. Earlier reproductive techniques used in American books & periodicals were woodcuts, wood engravings, or copper plate engravings.
  • ^Illustrators started to take advantage of the fact that they were no longer limited to b&w work reproduced by the linear methods of wood engraving. Now that paint, color, & mark could be captured by this new 4 color (CMYK) printing process they began to derive styles from contemporary painting instead of the tradition of draftsmanship. The distinction between illustration and easel painting became blurred. 
  • Photography ended size restrictions on drawings b/c photos of drawings could be enlarged or reduced to fit the block for engraving. 
  • New developments in printing technologies meant that cheap, rapid publication was possible. 
  • ^Periodicals such as Harper's Monthly Magazine (introducted 1850) and Harper's Weekly (1857) and the introduction of 'penny books' in England had more of an appeal to children and reflected the beginnings of the concept of the 'totally designed book' (also supported by William Morris's Arts & Crafts movement). 
  • The Saturday Evening Post was resurrected in 1897. (a rival to Harper's Weekly)
  • Another rival, Collier's Weekly was founded in 1888. 
  • In the 1860s/70s the "dime novel" caused a revolution in American reading & publishing. In the 1860s Erastus & Irwin Beadle came up with the idea of publishing novels about America by America, for the cheap price of 10 cents - "Beadles' New Dime Novels". 
  • In 1893 McLure's Magazine was founded and sold for 15 cents a copy, becoming an immediate success.
  • By 1903, 85% of magazine circulation was periodicals 10 cents or less. 
  • The magazine industry became more competitive, and having distinctive illustrations was a way to create a unique/desirable 'look'. Advertisers began competing for the best artists to promote their products. 
  • Collier's and Ladies Home Journal adopted larger format magazines as a result of advertisers wanting to run bigger ads. 
  • "No longer fearful of being embarrassed by poor engraving, American illustrators began to sign their work." -leading to more recognition of illustrators vs. engravers
  • Postwar improvements in rail systems led to more widespread, easy distribution of publications
  • In late 19th c. periodicals and books were the only vehicle for bringing images of the world into American homes 

Previous Artistic Movements: 
  • Art nouveau, European in origin, made a sudden appearance in America with the Sept. 17 1896 Life cover by Penhryn Stanlaws and led to a revolution in the decorative arts.
  • Pre-Raphaelites imposed an artificial/decorative style on illustration, as an alternative to the pre-existing realistic style. They emphasized style as being as important as subject matter. 

American Civil War: 
  • In early 1800s, illustration was merely a 'stepping stone' to a career in painting. Because it was technically reproductive in idea & use, it was considered unoriginal. This attitude began to change once the Civil War started to produce a higher demand for newspapers & magazines. The term "Special Artist" was coined for artist-reporters.
  • After the Civil War, the graphic depiction of current events & contemporary lit. carried over into periodicals, newspapers, & books, enabling the general public to be informed of local/world happenings, political/social issues, and affect attitudes/tastes of the time. It also delineated lives of rich & poor in urban areas as well as the history of American cities. 

Social Change in America:
  • Leisure and literacy increased & expanded across social classes, met with an accommodating response from authors & illustrators. Literacy was nearly universal among middle-income families.
  • Increased opportunity meant an explosion in illustration publications during the late 19th c. Illustration became a profession. 
  • It was a period of general economic stability & prosperity.
  • Because of shorter working hours and new labor-saving inventions in the home & workplace, there was more leisure time available. 
  • Salaries were higher and the cost of living was inexpensive.
  • Education became available to all classes.
  • A rise in the popularity of sports magazines in America led to a rise in illustrations devoted to these subjects. (Photography eventually would replace drawings in specialized sports mags.)
  • America created national celebrations/special ways of observing traditional holidays, and began illustrating holiday gift books. Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast (creator of Santa Claus image) were popular illustrators of holiday themes & events in the 19th c.
  • Among the upper class, the wealthy vied for social recognition & status. A new social elite known as "The Four Hundred" (the creme de la creme) became like celebrities/socialites. Reporters followed society to document and showcase to those not a part of this elite. Artists were employed to describe latest fashions, costumes, & hairstyles, demonstrating the tastes/attitudes of the wealthy, which the public then tried to imitate. This was done with a mix of humor, social satire & commentary. (ex. include Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl")
  • Along with this^, artists demonstrated intent & sympathy for the working class. They also depicted the poor & deprived, trying to capture the reality of hardships of lower class life and show the simple pleasures of life, during the late 1800s. 
  • In illustration, artists mirrored the personality/culture of the time. It was rarely experimental or avant-garde and was rooted in the objective/realistic aesthetic on which art was based before the 1920s. While modern art shocked Americans used to traditional approaches, illustration served as a buffer to modern art of the 20th c. 
  • Overall attitude of America from 1890-1925 was optimistic. There was a philosophy of progression & expansion and it was a crucial period of cultural transformation.

Changes in Literature:
  • Throughout the golden age, the story became of prime importance. 
  • Before the "cheap magazine" revolution of the 1890s, literature tended to be more intellectual. Mass production necessitated the need for faster-moving, less demanding literature. The focus shifted from enlightenment to entertainment. 

Changes in Children's Literature:
  • Before 1870, children's lit. was too serious and lacked substance.
  • From the 1870s onward, writers began to recognize and write according to children's needs and developed a more realistic attitude toward child development. 

Trends-Europe vs. America: 
  • During the first half of the 19th c. there was a great deal of interchange between England & the U.S.
  • In America, book illustration tended to follow periodical illustration. In Europe, the opposite was true-a book was first published and, if successful, published to periodicals.
  • Art nouveau originated in Europe. Aubrey Beardsley, part of the English art nouveau group, was an important influence on American illustrators. 
  • Symbolism was a European literary movement-a revolt against rationalism and an attempt to express the inexpressible by symbol or allusion. Some aspects of this can be found in some of Howard Pyle's work from mid 1890s as well as Maxfield Parrish and other American artists.
  • George Cruikshank (1792-1878), a British caricaturist & book illustrator (illustrated Charles Dickens books like Oliver Twist), was a huge influence on illustrators of the 20th c. He handled a broad range of subjects and his influence can be seen in A.B. Frost, C.D. Gibson, Sloan, Glackens, and early Howard Pyle.
  • British artists Hablot K. Browne and John Leech's use of pen line as an expressive element had a direct influence on the styles of subsequent naturalist illustration in America & Europe over the next generation. 
  • Walter Crane provided a direct connection between English & American illustration of the 1880s/90s. He derived inspiration from Pre-Raphaelite work and responded to Japanese art. 
  • In American art schools, standard training was drawing from plaster casts before moving on to live models. In Europe, life drawing was started right away. Because of this, American artists traveled to European art schools and came back already accustomed to drawing live models. They approached art editors looking for work and began working away from publication houses, using live models as reference. While previously illustrators were kept on staff at publication houses, to avoid the cost of having to hire live models, publishers began giving assignments on a freelance basis. Hiring freelance allowed publishers to change illustrators frequently, introducing new styles into their publications, and illustrators were now free to accept assignments from different publishers. Females could also pursue illustration while staying at home with their families. Illustrators became "specialized", or known for certain types of work, which art directors considered in choosing artists for assignments. 

American Women Illustrators:
  • Illustration became one of the few readily accessible ways for a woman to earn a living. It was a career compatible with family life and travel.
  • Increased educational and professional opportunities for women.
  • Social transformation took place - marriage was not inevitable for all. 
  • Civil War reduced the male population - "shortage of eligible bachelors" ..."began to look for solutions to the problem of 'surplus' women." (more professional opportunities instead)
  • "The greatest handicap facing every woman artist was exclusion from the fraternity of male artists." 
  • In 1844 Sarah Peter founded the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, a conservative institute with an emphasis on decorative pattern and ornament. In 1885 the only school in Philadelphia to offer serious training for women art students was PAFA. 
  • "Feminine lines, floral ornamentation, unexpected asymmetry" popular in many women's work derived from Japanese decorative art and French art nouveau influence

African American Artist-illustrators:
  • Little was produced in the area of pure illustration until about 1930.
  • In the period after WWI, opportunities in the field of illustration were almost non-existent. 
  • ^This was likely due to a new wave of racism that evolved during that time than to the economic situation.
  • 1911-1930 was a time of expanding professionalism.

Formation of Societies, Clubs, & Organizations:
  • Before 1900, when illustrators sold drawings to publishers they sold the reproduction rights and drawings along with them. As illustrators gained status and recognition, publishers began selling works to the public while the illustrator received none of the royalties. In 1900 a group of illustrators met to discuss their complaints and formed the Society of Illustrators in 1901. They began admitting women in 1905 and became incorporated in 1921. It was intended as an organization for illustrators to discuss the business aspect of their careers and provide a social atmosphere to develop friendships among artists. It also helped organize war efforts in 1917. 
  • Howard Pyle had his famous "school" of students in Chadds Ford, PA.
  • Other organizations that drew authors, illustrators, editors, & publishers together include:
    • The Franklin Inn Club (est. 1902)
    • in New York:
      • the Salamungdi Club
      • the Lamb's Club
      • Watercolour Society
      • Tile Club
      • Dutch Treat Club
    • in Connecticut:
      • Knocker's Club
  • Females were often restricted access, so they formed their own clubs like the Plastic Club in PA. 
  • Exhibitions organized by these groups generated interest in the original drawings of illustrator art, leading illustration to become something to hang on people's walls rather than just something present in books & periodicals. 

Reasons for Decline of the Golden Age: 

  • The Golden Age peaked in 1917 and struggled after the war.
  • By the 1920s, photographs began to overtake periodicals and replaced illustrations for non-fiction articles. 
  • The public began to turn to movies and public radio instead of periodicals for entertainment.
  • After WWI, the general illustrated monthly lost popularity. 
  • The desire for lighthearted, entertaining literature dwindled and realism took its place, which was not as well-suited for illustration.
  • The only books that used artwork consistently anymore were for children.
  • After 1925, artists no longer enjoyed the high profile status they had from 1890-1925. 

Other opinions:
  • Publishers underestimated public tastes and forced illustrators to continue working in restrictive modes.
  • Illustrators were greedy and only wanted to make more money.
  • The fast pace of the 20th c. didn't allow time to create well-thought-out work.
  • New contracts giving artists ownership over their original work resulted in illustrators becoming more self-centered and more interested in the resale value of their work than its actual function.
  • Illustrators weren't considering the harmony of typeface, layout, & design to art.
  • Art schools were ignoring the spiritual aspect of being an artist. 
  • There was a decline in overall writing quality.

Victorian Age - good link:
-Period of Queen Victoria's reign - 1837-1901
-long period of prosperity - allowed for the development of middle class
    -overseas profits from empire (colonies, trade, etc.)
    -industrial developments 
-conflict between Gothic and Classic aesthetic - Gothic was  supported by the critic John Ruskin (see below), who argued that it epitomised communal and inclusive social values, as opposed to Classicism, which he considered to epitomize mechanical standardisation.
-big subjects of Victorian age painting-
    -social history
    -religious painting
    -external world - landscape, urban scenes
    -myth, symbol, folklore
-majority of printing pictures was done in woodblock or etching and sometimes handcolored (almost doubled the cost)


The original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) was founded in 1849 by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), D.G. Rossetti, John Everett Millais (1829-1896), William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Thomas Woolner, and F. G. Stephens to "revitalize" the arts. They were heavily influenced by the theories of John Ruskin(see below). Below is their unofficial manifesto.

  1. Testing and defying all conventions of art; for example, if the Royal Academy schools taught art students to compose paintings with (a) pyramidal groupings of figures, (b) one major source of light at one side matched by a lesser one on the opposite, and (c) an emphasis on rich shadow and tone at the expense of color, the PRB with brilliant perversity painted bright-colored, evenly lit pictures that appeared almost flat.

  2. The PRB also emphasized precise, almost photographic representation of even humble objects, particularly those in the immediate foreground (which were traditionally left blurred or in shade) --thus violating conventional views of both proper style and subject.

  3. Following Ruskin, they attempted to transform the resultant hard-edge realism (created by 1 and 2) by combining it with typological symbolism. At their most successful, the PRB produced a magic or symbolic realism, often using devices found in the poetry of Tennyson and Browning.

  4. Believing that the arts were closely allied, the PRB encouraged artists and writers to practice each other's art, though only D.G. Rossetti did so with particular success.

  5. Looking for new subjects, they drew upon Shakespeare, Keats, and Tennyson (aka literary subjects)

John Ruskin - artist, critic - Ruskin believed that art communicated an understanding of nature, and that authentic artists should reject inherited conventions, and study and appreciate effects of form and colour by direct observation. His most famous dictum was "go to nature in all singleness of heart, rejecting nothing and selecting nothing." He later believed that the Pre-Raphaelites formed "a new and noble school" of art that would provide a basis for a thoroughgoing reform of the art world. For Ruskin, art should communicate truth above all things. However, he believed this was not revealed by mere display of skill, but the expression of the artist's whole moral outlook. Ruskin rejected the work of Whistler because he considered it to epitomise a reductive mechanisation of art. (much like the Arts and Crafts movement's rejection to mechanical reproduction)

The second form of Pre-Raphaelitism, which grows out of the first under the direction of D.G. Rossetti, is Aesthetic Pre-Raphaelitism, and it in turn produced the Arts and Crafts Movement, modern functional design, and the Aesthetes and Decadents. Rossetti and his follower Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) emphasized themes of eroticized medievalism (or medievalized eroticism) and pictorial techniques that produced moody atmosphere. This form of Pre-Raphaelitism has most relevance to poetry; for although the earlier combination of a realistic style with elaborate symbolism appears in a few poems, particularly those of the Rossettis, this second stage finally had the most influence upon literature.