The Library of Congress is currently presenting a show of groundbreaking female illustrators and graphic designers in America. Called “Drawn to Purpose,” and up through October of this year, the collection features work by luminaries like fashion illustrator Grace Drayton; Mary Hollock Foote, one of the first women to work as a professional illustrator; and Jackie Ormes, a groundbreaking black female comic book creator behind the serialized story Heartbeats.
And then there’s Jessie Willcox Smith, the exceptional talent who provided countless illustrations for late 19th century and early 20th century magazines — Collier’s, Century and Harper’s, to name a few — and popular books, such as Little Women and A Child’s Book of Country Stories. Perhaps her most famous work, however, are the illustrations Smith provided for the 1916 re-issue of Charles Kinglsey’s fantastical morality tale, The Water-Babies, about a kid who drowns and must reclaim his righteousness to make it back to land.
That said, for this week’s “Found in the LOC,” and to celebrate the Library of Congress’ Drawn to Purpose show, here are a dozen of Smith’s whimsical yet sinister Water Babies water colors, all from 1916. Above, “Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby” and “Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid“.
Ten more AFTER THE JUMP.