From the opening pages of Thompson Buchanan's novel The Castle Comedy, May Percy, daughter of English aristocrat Sir John Percy, dominates a story of romantic intrigue. Green's portrait of her, published as the book's frontispiece, gives visible form to this central character, a spirited, dark-eyed beauty whose vivid appearance enhances the reader's perceptions about her.
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Elizabeth Shippen Green was an experienced artist who explored children's personalities in her drawings. The story "Grizzle, His Wife," for which Green did this illustration, describes a young girl's emotional attachment to a graveyard, despite the common attitude that such places are morbid. Green depicts Aletha not only at ease in the graveyard but also open to experiencing the beauty of the place and wondering about the lives of those buried there.
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A theme that Green treated often was the connection between mother and child. Through the close placement of the two figures in this scene, a woman and an orphan girl, and the dramatic rendering of their facial expressions and poses, Green suggests the multifaceted emotions that are experienced when two individuals explore the meaning of "mother and daughter" for the first time.
Madame Joly in no wise resembled the Madonna Botticelli in the Louvre: poor little one! She murmured, resting her cheek on the brown hair, ca. 1911. Charcoal on board. Published in Harper's Magazine, June 1911. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-46614; LC-USZC4-9396 (3)
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These two images are part of The Mistress of the House, a series of eight drawings with no text that Harper's specially commissioned from Green and published in 1905. She depicts a romanticized vision of domestic life, featuring a beautiful young mother engaged in daily pursuits. The colorful scenes recall a world like that evoked in paintings by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), whose work Green would have known.
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The Journey is one of three illustrations the artist made for a series of poems by Josephine Preston Peabody entitled "The Little Past." The poems relate experiences of childhood from a child's perspective. In harmony with the poem it accompanies, Green's painting captures a young boy's complete absorption in the shifting scenes he sees from his seat in a railway car.
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In addition to illustrating Harper's Magazine stories, Green developed decorative complements for poems, calendars, and texts. She distinguished herself throughout her career by creating these intricate decorative details, as seen in this visual presentation of the poem by Josephine Preston Peabody.
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