A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the most illustrated children's books with more than 100 versions. Stevenson's poems capture the wonder and fantasy of childhood and I can see why every illustrator of children's literature would want to add their interpretation. I recently picked up a book that is a sort of anthology of early illustrators of A Garden of Verses. Put out by Chronicle Books in 1989, it includes illustrations of the poems by some 20 illustrators, from 1896 to 1940. The book is a pleasure to browse through, each illustration a delight to the visual sense.
Although all the illustrations are beautiful, some are particularly appealing to my sense of aesthetics. I find myself drawn over and over again to the Clara M. Burd illustrations. She often signed her work, C M Burd. I orignally found her through a rare book, called Friendly Animals. (As the book is in tatters, I have been matting the illustrations).
C.M. Burd is one of the few illustrators who went to Paris to study art. I think possibly it is her use of color that attracts me -- she often has a mix of muted, neutrals contrasted with brighter tones. This particular illustration is actually more colorful than most of her work. She also make nice use of light - I think she must have painted outdoors.
I would have liked to share all the illustrations in this book -- but I had to stop myself and include some of my favorites as well as some that show the diverse styles.
From 1922, Juanita Bennett -- a similar use of color in a more dream world style.I would like to find out more about this artist --not much information out there.
Jessie Wilcox Smith, 1905, very detailed, painterly, beautiful -- she is a very popular and well-regarded illustrator -- one of the few women who made it into the Illustrator Sourcebook. She was a student of Howard Pyle.
Millicent Sowerby, 1908, was primarily self taught and her work shows a great diversity. I was drawn to this one -- I think it has an Arthur Rackham feel to it.
The simpler, understated style of H. Willebeek Le Mair, 1926.
And again the prolific Margaret Tarrant, 1918 -- reminds me of early poster art.
Ruth Mary Hallock, 1940, love the very '40s look of this illustration. There is another of hers I like equally, but it needs more space.
And another very pretty one by Florence Edith Storer, 1909
I'd like to find the originals of these books in any condition.