Illustrated Storybooks: Selections from the Museum's Collection
Apr 21, 2011 - Jun 19, 2011
The exhibition Fairy Tale Art: Illustrations from Children’s Books provides the perfect opportunity to share some of the enchanting storybooks housed in the museum’s Library/Archive.
The books in this mini-display, published from 1878-1926, cover an era known as the American “golden age of illustration.” During this time, advancements in chromolithography and offset printing allowed publishers to make economical reproductions with full color images.
As demand for picture books increased, so did career opportunities for aspiring illustrators. In 1894, Howard Pyle, a successful artist in his own right, opened the first American school for illustrators at Drexel Institute. His students included now famous artists such as Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Willcox Smith, and N.C. Wyeth.
The combination of ‘rising star’ illustrators and low-cost publications made way for a new item on the consumer shopping list: the children’s gift book. By the early 1900s, nursery bookcases were bulging with colorful storybooks ready to amuse young readers.
Some of these stories will be familiar such as The Wind in the Willows or The Hungry Tiger of Oz, while other stories are intriguingly obscure, such as Grace Boylan’s Yama Yama Land. Whether they be about frogs, fairies, or far off lands, these book illustrations are sure to add a little magic to your museum visit.