"Have You a Red Cross Service Flag" is an original paper poster by Jessie Wilcox Smith, American, 1863 - 1935, in very fine condition printed in 1918. This poster is 30" x 23", and signed lower left in the print: "Jessie Wilcox Smith" with "Copyright The American Red Cross" notated at the bottom left edge. This print is not framed, however it is shrink wrapped on a foam core panel with a hanger located on the reverse. Jessie Wilcox Smith was a pre-eminent American illustrator and student of Howard Pyle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Below is Jessie Wilcox Smith's biography from the American Illustrators Gallery as listed on Askart:
"Although she never married and had no children of her own, Jessie Willcox Smith is considered one of the best children's book illustrators, and her rendition of Little Miss Muffet is considered “The Mona Lisa of children’s book illustrations.”
In addition to children’s books, she illustrated advertisements for Kodak, Procter and Gamble and Ivory Soap and painted over two hundred magazine covers for Good Housekeeping alone.
Born in Philadelphia, Ms. Smith originally trained in early childhood education and came to illustration in her early twenties after discovering how much she enjoyed drawing. She enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* (PAFA) and studied under Thomas Eakins, graduating in 1888.
After graduation, her interest in illustration attracted her to a job a year later with The Ladies’ Home Journal advertising department. Nearly five years later, she learned that Howard Pyle was starting a school of illustration at Drexel Institute,* and she was accepted into the inaugural class along with Maxfield Parrish, Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Her first illustration commission was a result of a recommendation by Pyle for an 1897 edition of Longfellow’s Evangeline, which she and Violet Oakley worked on jointly. In fact, Pyle suggested that they get a studio to undertake work together and they invited their friend, Elizabeth Shippen Green to join with them as a triad team to undertake large commissions.
Interestingly, Howard Pyle’s Drexel Institute class was nearly fifty percent women students, and Ms. Smith was the oldest, having previous studied at PAFA, and worked for five years prior. She was nearly ten years older than most other students, but perhaps it was a reason to make her even more eager to learn.
While at Drexel, she met Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, and the three women immediately hit it off. They became known as ‘The Red Rose Girls’*, spending fifteen years living and working together from 1901 onwards, at the Red Rose Inn in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Hence their group nickname. The three women became lifelong friends, art collaborators, and colleagues.
Upon graduation from Pyle’s school, Jessie started working for the illustration thirsty magazines and collaborated with Elizabeth Green on calendars while illustrating stories for Scribner’s Magazine. She and Violet Oakley also collaborated at times, but from about 1905 forwards, she was inundated with commissions and celebrity.
Within a few years, Jessie was working for: Century, Collier’s Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, McClure’s Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine, Women’s Home Companion, and Good Housekeeping.
From 1918 through 1932, Smith illustrated covers exclusively for Good Housekeeping magazine, and her images influenced American nurseries and family rooms, elementary schools and playgrounds due to her selected subject matter.
Her book credits include: A Child’s Book of Stories, A Children’s Book of Modern Stories, Dickens’ Children, Little Women, A Child's Garden of Verses, At the Back of the North Wind, Boys and Girls of Bookland, Heidi, and The Water-Babies.
Her fame as an illustrator caused many parents to seek her out for portraits of children for which she was also well known. Her sensitiveness to children, their moods and expressions, their body language is all obvious in each image. It remains an extraordinary achievement for one who was never a parent. On the other hand, for a parent to view her works is touching and endearing for it always brings back moments of joy to the viewers. Jessie Willcox Smith has often been compared to Mary Cassatt, the noted American Impressionist."
Jessie Wilcox Smith is listed in Fielding, Who Was Who in American Art, and Mallett's Index of Artists.
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Jessie Wilcox Smith 1863-1935 Original Red Cross Service Flag Poster 1918