Jessie Willcox Smith
(September 6, 1863
May 3, 1935) was an American illustrator during the Golden Age of American illustration.
She was considered "one of the greatest pure illustrators"
She was a contributor to books and magazines during the late 19th and early
20th centuries. Smith illustrated stories and articles for clients such as Century,
Collier's, Leslie's Weekly, Harper's, McClure's, Scribners, and the Ladies'
Home Journal. She had an ongoing relationship with Good Housekeeping, which
included the long-running Mother Goose series of illustrations and also the
creation of all of the Good Housekeeping covers from December 1917 to 1933.
Among the more than 60 books that Smith illustrated were Louisa May Alcott's
and An Old-Fashioned Girl
, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's
, and Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses
While studying at Drexel, Smith met Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley,
who had similar talent and with whom she had mutual interests. They would develop
a lifelong friendship. The women shared a studio on Philadelphia's Chestnut
Street. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline, illustrated by Oakley and
Smith, was published in 1897. Their teacher Howard Pyle helped to secure this
first commission for the two artists.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Smith's career flourished. She illustrated
a number of books, magazines, and created an advertisement for Ivory soap.
Her works were published in Scribner's, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's Weekly,
and St. Nicholas Magazine. She won an award for Child Washing. Green, Smith,
and Oakley became known as "The Red Rose Girls" after the Red Rose
Inn in Villanova, Pennsylvania where they lived and worked together for four
years beginning in the early 1900s They leased the inn where they were joined
by Oakley's mother, Green's parents, and Henrietta Cozens, who managed the
gardens and inn. Alice Carter created a book about the women entitled The
Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love for an exhibition of their
work at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Museum Director Laurie Norton Moffatt
said of them, "These women were considered the most influential artists
of American domestic life at the turn of the twentieth century. Celebrated
in their day, their poetic, idealized images still prevail as archetypes of
motherhood and childhood a century later."