Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Golden Age of Female Illustrators

Who would have thought that my recent foray into the realm of the virtual pin-board would have yielded such exquisite finds? Who would have thought that more then the opportunity of promoting my own work, it is the wealth of related images that fill my inbox from other pinteresters that's got me excited? Certainly not me! And I found myself asking the question, as I did a quick reccy on google of several names I'd come across on other pin-boards, how did I not know of these illustrators before now? How had I gone through an art foundation and a three year degree in illustration, not to mention the rest of my life!! without coming across their work? How on earth could it be Pinterest...Pinterest people!! that was finally filling in the holey socks of my education?!?! The answer is a simple one and yet still, somehow (naively?) astounding. They are all women. The list of illustrators I looked at this morning are all women who were around and producing art during the period that is now regarded as the Golden Age of Illustration in Europe. It was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites at the end of the Nineteenth century and lead on to other such glorious movements as Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and Art Deco during the early Twentieth century and included illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen (all well known and well loved names). I would boldly consider the work of these female illustrators as equal to such champions of the Age, however, the annals of History do not agree. I've compiled a small list here of women who I feel deserve to be counted with the men. One day I dream of standing with them.

Bertha Lum (1869 – 1954) . She was an American artist who lived in Japan over several periods in her life and helped to make the Japanese and Chinese woodblock printing process known outside of Asia. Her work sweetly combines the fluidity and style of both Japanese art and Art Nouveau. I love the lights in this image, the yellow just pops out next to the subtle grey and blue tones of the rest of the picture and draws the eye in. 

Jessie M. King (1875 – 1949). She was a Scottish illustrator mostly of children's books although she also designed jewellery, fabric, and painted pottery! The delicacy of her line work and colour pallet is beautiful here and makes me want to hold her originals in my hands so that I can peer at it up close to see all the details. I feel some of it is lost on the computer. 

Emma Florence Harrison (1877–1955). She was an English illustrator of both poetry and children's books. Her work is both strongly Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau based although her lightness of touch is uniquely her own. I love how the colours glow in this image through the contrast of the cool blues and warm oranges.

Cecile Walton (1891 – 1956). She was a Scottish painter, illustrator and sculptor and a leading member of the Symbolist movement in Edinburgh. The subtlety and coolness of the colours creates a beautifully mournful mood in this image and is also true of all her work. 

Jennie Harbour - (1893 - 1959). She was an English illustrator between 1917 and 1936 but very little else is known about her life before and after those dates. Her works of art are little gems, so saturated with jewel-like colours. You can't be fooled by the simplicity of her compositions because her colours do all the talking.


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