January 7, 2021

Throwback Thursday: The Red Rose Girls, By Amanda Bergloff


Editor's Note: We here at EC love the Golden Age of Illustration, and these three women who lived together and supported one another, known as The Red Rose Girls, were an interesting part of it. We hope you enjoy this article about them originally published in 2017.

The Golden Age of Illustration is a term applied to a time period (1880s - 1920s) of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustrations by artists in Europe and America. Advances in technology at the time allowed for accurate and inexpensive reproductions of their art, which allowed quality books to be available to the voracious public demand for new graphic art.


In America, illustration of this period was rooted in the Brandywine Valley Tradition begun by artist, Howard Pyle, and carried on by his students who included N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Edwin Austin...along with a special group of women known as The Red Rose Girls.


(1901) Violet Oakely, Jessie Willcox Smith,

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Henrietta Cozens


From 1906-1911, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, and Jessie Willcox Smith, rented the Red Rose Inn in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where they lived together and supported one another's artistic careers.


Their nickname, The Red Rose Girls was given to them by Howard Pyle, who taught the three artists in his first illustration class at Drexel Institute.


Green, Oakley, and Willcox became successful, prolific artists who helped establish Philadelphia as a national center for book and magazine illustration. Their unconventional life style at the time, of a group of young female artists living together, demonstrated that women could become successful professional artists and served as a model for later women.


Their style of Romantic realism still inspires me today...So cheers to The Red Rose Girls and all their amazing work!

(1901) Violet Oakely, Jessie Willcox Smith,

Elizabeth Shippen Green, Henrietta Cozens

Read more about them below:

Elizabeth Shippen Green

Elizabeth Shippen Green (September 1, 1871 - May 29, 1954) was an American illustrator who illustrated children's books and worked for publications such as The Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post.


In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the majority of subscribers to magazines and periodicals were women, so as women entered the artist community, publishers hired them to depict the world through a woman's perspective. During this time, Green became a commercially successful artist who was part of the emerging image of the educated, modern and freer ideal of the "New Woman."


Her art, to me, is timeless and classic. Check it out below:

Illustration from Tiphaiine la Fée

Harper's Monthly Magazine April 1906

Elizabeth Shippen Green


Jehane – The Constant Lover

Harper's Monthly Magazine Sept.1907

Elizabeth Shippen Green


from The Navarrese

Harper's Monthly Magazine Sept.1907

Elizabeth Shippen Green


Masquerade

Elizabeth Shippen Green


Violet Oakley

Violet Oakley (June 10, 1874 - February 25, 1961) was an American artist who was the first American woman to receive a public mural commission. In a field that had been exclusive to men, Oakley's Rennaissance-revival style stood out in murals and stained glass designs that addressed themes from history and literature. She also had success as a popular illustrator for magazines including The Century Magazine, Collier's Weekly, and Woman's Home Companion.


Oakley was a member of Philadelphia's The Plastic Club, an organization established to promote "Art for art's sake." Other members included her friends, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Elizabeth Shippen Green, and the club provided a means to encourage one another professionally and create opportunities to sell their works of art.


Like the other Red Rose Girls, Oakley personified the ideal of the modern professional "New Woman" through her art and throughout her life.


Her art is truly lyrical and inspirational. Check it out below:

June

cover of Everybody’s Magazine 1902

Violet Oakley


The Encouragement of Reading

Violet Oakley


A Roadside Encounter

Violet Oakley


Study for portrait of Edith Emerson

Violet Oakley

Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith (September 6, 1863 - May 3, 1935) was an American illustrator and was known as "one of the greatest pure illustrators" of her time. Her art is in more than 60 books and she illustrated stories and articles for magazines such as Century, Collier's Harper's, and The Ladies' Home Journal. Her Mother Goose series of illustrations was a long-running feature in Good Housekeeping where she also created all the covers from December 1917 to 1933 (and became the artist with the longest run of illustrated magazine covers.)


Smith is also known for her illustrations for books such as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others. Also, her illustrations and advertising posters of children and women appealed to the public, and she became popular as a "media star," like Norman Rockwell.


In 1991, Smith became the second woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Illustrators. Of the small group of women inducted, three were members of The Red Rose Girls: Jessie Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green (1994) and Violet Oakley (1996.)


Smith's art exemplifies pure beauty and heart to me. Check it out below:

from At the Back of the North Wind 1919

Jessie Willcox Smith


from The Water Babies 1916

Jessie Willcox Smith


from At the Back of the North Wind 1919

Jessie Willcox Smith


Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid

from The Water Babies 1916

Jessie Willcox Smith

EC's contributing editor, Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.

Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff

Check out her Amazon Author Page

Also, join her every Tuesday on Twitter for #FairyTaleTuesday to share what you love about fairy tales, folktales, and myths.

And check out
Enchanted Conversation's
and listen to the
Classical Music to Write Fairy Tales By
playlist for some writing inspiration!

5 comments:

Victoria Dixon said...

I was familiar with some of these women and their work and I love it. Thank you for the article and the spotlight.

Guy Ricketts said...

Love these artists. What a wonderful way to live day to day, to feed their creativity, sharing a home with another artist or other artists. Great article!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Victoria and Guy. They were unique and independent women that inspired me. Thanks for reading!
--Amanda

Kelly Jarvis said...

So much wonderful information in this article! I have always loved the work of Jessie Wilcox Smith!

Fallon said...

The piece titled, "Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid," by Jessie Wilcox Smith immediately pulled me into childhood. This was a lovely bit of history to read, really fun.

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