As a child, Art Wood was captivated by a trove of books in his family's library, which included literary classics with pictures by great illustrators. Admiration for the work of these masters' works awakened his appreciation for fine drawing, motivated him to collect a broad range of distinguished artists, and inspired him to develop his own talent. Artistic gems in Wood's collection from America's Golden Age of Illustration, from 1880 to 1930, include drawings created by Edwin Austin Abbey, James Montgomery Flagg, and Dean Cornwell as well as their pioneering female counterparts: Nell Brinkley, Rose O'Neill, and Katherine Pyle. Children's book illustrators in the collection include Johnny Gruelle and Michael Hague, who engage viewers with colorful scenes of their characters' mishaps.
Dragon Rearing Up to Reach Medieval Knight on Ledge
In her portrayal of Rinaldo as he crouches on a beam to escape a beast in the castle of Altaripa in Charlemagne and His Knights, Katharine Pyle (1863-1938) uses subtle color in her gouache renderings—the gold and silver hues enhancing the composition. She began her writing career as a teenager and also studied art with her more famous brother Howard Pyle, who set artistic standards for the Golden Age of American Illustration. She had a rare combination of gifts for writing and illustration and achieved recognition through her short stories, poems, and plays for children, including Charlemagne and His Knights.
Katharine Pyle. Dragon rearing up to reach medieval knight on ledge, 1932. Published in Charlemagne & His Knights, by Katharine Pyle, J.B. Lippincott Co., 1932. Oil on board. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-USZ6-2277; LC-USZC4-9476; LC-DIG-ppmsc-02837 (42)
Uncle Sam's Girl-Shower
Nell Brinkley (1888-1944) depicts a bevy of beauties floating into Washington, D.C., eager to support the war effort during World War I, only to face a severe housing shortage. Brinkley highlights their urgent plight by showing one girl asleep on a bench, another sleeping against a lamp post, and a third reading a rental sign banning dogs, children, and girls. In the central vignette an elegant young woman appeals to Uncle Sam for help. During an exceptionally successful career, this popular pioneering woman illustrator employed a distinctive, fine-lined drawing style in her newspaper illustrations of idealistic young women.
“Davy Crockett” and Early Settlers
Dean Cornwell (1892-1960) depicts three frontiersmen—two figures wear tricorn hats and another kneels and aims a rifle. Given the inscription, this would appear to be a study for one of the murals Cornwell executed for a Tennessee state building, but no direct connection exists. Re-worked versions of the three frontiersmen do appear related to figures in a group of buckskin clad men in the Exploration and Settlement panel of the Tennessee statehood murals in the John Sevier State Office Building in Nashville. Highly acclaimed as an illustrator, Cornwell also designed and painted more than twenty murals in American public buildings.
Dean Cornwell. “Davy Crockett” and Early Settlers—Group from Mural, State Building, Tennessee, ca. 1937. Charcoal. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-07921 (44). Courtesy of Kirkham R. Cornwell, Jr.
Raggedy Ann and Andy in the River
Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, two beloved characters created by Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), swim in a river with an elfin man. In 1915, Gruelle patented a doll, Raggedy Ann, shortly after the death of his beloved teenage daughter, Marcella. The popularity of both the doll and the imaginative adventure stories have continued to this day. Gruelle worked as an illustrator, political cartoonist, and comic strip creator for some of the best known periodicals of the day. Raggedy Ann, his most enduring character, was so popular that his brother Justin and teenage son Worth continued drawing and writing stories after Gruelle's untimely death.
Johnny Gruelle. Raggedy Ann and Andy in the River, between 1915 and 1938. Ink and watercolor. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-05860 (45). © Raggedy Ann & Andy and Associated Characters are Trademarks of Simon & Schuster
Alcohol, Death, and the Devil
This image depicting a skeletal Medusa raising a cup of alcohol to the crowd, while the Devil enjoins them to imbibe, is a humorous yet biting commentary on the dangers of alcohol consumption. George Cruikshank (1792-1878), one of the most prolific illustrators and satirists working in England, began his career during the Golden Age of English Satire (1770-1820). In the 1820s, he successfully shifted to book illustration, including a collaboration with Charles Dickens. In 1847 he renounced alcohol and became an enthusiastic supporter of the temperance movement.
One of the leading lights in America's Golden Age of Illustration (1870-1930), Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911), created this pen and ink drawing for Judith Shakespeare, a novel published in 1884. Abbey's rapidly maturing technique and style are evident in this scene drawn with remarkable detail—as seen in his rendering of Judith and her companion, their clothing, controlled use of light and tone, and balanced placement of figures. In the story, Shakespeare's second daughter unwisely allows a young man to have a preliminary look at her father's manuscript of The Tempest.
E.A. Abbey. Judith Shakespeare, 1884. Published in Judith Shakespeare: Her Love Affairs and Other Adventures, by William Black. New York: Harper, 1884. Pen and ink over graphite underdrawing with scraping out. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-03347 (47)
Elf doing Laundry
Vernon Grant (1902-1990) gained fame as the illustrator who created the branding characters of Snap!®, Crackle!® and Pop!® for Kellogg's Rice Crispies breakfast cereal. A talented artist, he designed magazine covers and illustrated books with the aim to delight children. He graduated from the Chicago Art Institute with an understanding that he had a flair for fantasy and make-believe. After teaching art in Los Angeles, Grant headed to New York where the advertising agencies drove the market for his art, making him an increasingly popular artist.
Junction, a Mouse
In this children's book illustration, an owl threatens a mouse named Junction, whose shoulder has been injured. In the dark forest setting, the shadow of a large rat on the left plays off against the owl; between them, the vulnerable form of the mouse stands out. Michael Hague (b. 1948) depicts this pivotal scene in Julia Cunningham's A Mouse Called Junction, the story of a mouse who seeks adventure beyond his cozy home and is saved from an owl by a lonely rat. A leading illustrator of children's books, Hague has created many vivid images, particularly in the areas of fantasy and classic animal stories.
Michael Hague. Junction, a mouse, attacked by an owl, 1980. Published in A Mouse Called Junction, by Julia Cunningham, illustrated by Michael Hague. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980. Watercolor, brown ink, and ink wash, with opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-05857 (49). © Michael Hague, 1980
His Full Name
In this illustration by Rose Cecil O'Neill (1874-1944), a timid census-taker queries Mrs. Grogan, the overbearing, pipe-smoking lady of the house, in her husband's absence. Asked for her husband's full name, she mocks Mr. Grogan's claim as head of household. Her ample size visually reinforces the point. A pioneering woman illustrator and author, known best as the creator of the Kewpie Doll, O'Neill produced hundreds of illustrations for Puck, some of which, including this scene, made fun of the magazine's largely male readership.
Nude Figures Astride an Ornate Building
In a surrealistic watercolor by German artist Heinrich Kley (1863-1945), three nude figures, a young woman, a grotesque younger man, and an older man, are astride an ornate civic building, which they dwarf. The artist's grotesque transformation probably represents a commentary on German politics and government. Kley began as a painter of conventional, realistic subjects, notably including scenes of industry. He also used his dazzling drawing technique and unconstrained imagination to produce inspired drawings of human-animal hybrids and biting cartoons that were published in two popular German magazines Simplicissimus and Jugend.
No Answer—on Death of Marilyn Monroe
Although published as an editorial cartoon, this image of Marilyn Monroe's bare arm on her bed with a telephone in her hand has all the qualities of an illustration. Burris Jenkins, Jr. (1896?-1966) captured the nighttime scene, with the lights of Hollywood visible through the window. Monroe, known as a sex symbol as well as a film actress, was found dead of a drug overdose in her bed on August 5, 1962. Reports that she was found with a telephone in her hand led many to believe that her death had been accidental. Jenkins worked as a reporter and then a cartoonist for the New York World and the New York Journal.
Man with Car Getting Directions
John Held, Jr.
A lively winter scene by John Held, Jr., (1889-1958), pictures a motorist and his dog stopped in front of a country store to ask directions from a man on the front steps. Onlookers include a man holding a jug in the foreground, another driving a wooden sleigh, and a woman passerby on the other side of the store. Shown from above, Held's heavily-clad figures have the stylized, balloon shaped heads and abbreviated features typical of his work from the 1920s and early 1930s. His iconic images of flappers, their male cohorts, and other young sophisticates of the 1920s came to epitomize the Jazz Age.
John Held, Jr. Man with car getting directions from a man standing on store porch during winter, between 1920 and 1935. Ink and watercolor with opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-03610 (53). © Estate of John Held, Jr. Permission of Illustration House, Inc.
Wedding Photograph Scene
A little black dog humorously inserts himself into an otherwise picture-perfect wedding party in a flawlessly executed watercolor by Glen Fleischmann (1909-1985). This drawing, created as a cover for Nation's Business, captures onlookers' amusement as several guests try to lure the dog from his spot in front of the newlyweds. Fleischmann deploys his realistically detailed technique in depicting the bride and groom, smiling family members, and friends gathered in the pristine sun-washed setting. Working in the mode of Norman Rockwell, he vividly evokes a similarly idealized vision of post World War II, small town America.
Air Log Rolling Contest
Robert E. Lee
Shown in a breathtaking moment, a young man and woman are suspended in mid air, each about to fall off a log labeled “Air Log Rolling Co[ntest].” Artist Robert Edmond Lee (1899 -1980) created this dynamic cover design for the Saturday Evening Post, capturing the figures' anxious expressions and precarious positions just before impact. Though apparently not used, the illustration displays Lee's fine watercolor technique and ability to picture amusing moments of action. Born in San Francisco, Lee studied with Robert Henri at the Art Students League in New York. Remaining there, he illustrated for Ladies Home Journal and commercial clients.
“The phone rang, and Hugh leaped to answer it.”
James Montgomery Flagg
In this illustration by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) for a short story about a newlywed couple, Hugh urges Polly to speak with her mother on the telephone. Hugh's lordly self assurance contrasts with his wife's hesitant air. Flagg uses fine pen and ink lines to delineate and model the pair's flawless faces and employs sweeping brush strokes to capture the appearances of their hair, clothing, contrasting poses, and personalities. Gifted and prolific, Flagg created stunning work in oil and watercolor but demonstrated exceptional skill in ink drawings, the core of his lifework.
James Montgomery Flagg. “The phone rang, and Hugh leaped to answer it. Polly heard him say 'Hello. . Yes. . Wait a minute.' He turned triumphant. 'Your mother!' he cried—,” 1922 Published as illustration for “The Adventurers” by Ben Ames Williams, Good Housekeeping, October 1922. India ink over graphite underdrawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-03307 (102)