Arago: Exhibits

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Women Illustrators

Before the widespread use of photography, magazines relied on illustrators to provide images for their stories and advertisements. The need for women illustrators to portray domestic and feminine scenes in women’s magazines and advertisements gave many women the chance to earn a living as artists. Jessie Wilcox Smith, Rose O’Neill, and Neysa McMein are three examples of accomplished female illustrators.

Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935) illustrated for magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal throughout the beginning of the twentieth century. She loved children and began illustrating while she was a kindergarten teacher. Although she never married or had children of her own, her illustrations usually featured images of children’s activities. In addition to her artwork on magazines, Smith was also the illustrator of many children’s books.

Rose O’Neill (1874-1944) is most well known for her creation of the Kewpie characters that appeared in Ladies Home Journal during the early 1900’s. In addition to her illustrations for Ladies Home Journal, she also wrote several children’s books that contained the characters. O’Neill also created illustrations for other prominent magazines of the time such as Good Housekeeping and Life, and also was a sculptor, novelist, and poet.

Neysa McMein (1888-1949) Illustrated for magazines such as McCall's, Saturday Evening Post, and Woman’s Home Companion during the 1920’s and 1930’s. In addition to her illustrations for magazines, McMein also created artwork for advertisements. Her most notable advertisement illustration is that of Betty Crocker for General Mills.

These three women’s stamps were designed by Carl Herrman for the American Illustrators Issue. The Jessie Wilcox Smith stamp contains her illustration, "The First Lesson," which appeared in Ladies Home Journal in 1904. The Rose O’Neill stamp contains her undated picture, "Kewpie with Kewpie Doodle Dog." And the Neysa McMein stamp contains a portrait of her as an artist.