For today’s Found in the LOC, feast your eyes on over two dozen works by Elizabeth Shippen Green.
Inspired and encouraged as a child by her artist father, the exceptionally talented illustrator was first published in 1889, at age eighteen, and Green’s six decade career included contributions to popular and venerable publications Philadelphia Times, Women’s Home Companion, and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as to Harper’s magazine, with whom she signed an enviable exclusive contract in 1901, at age 30. She was the publication’s first female staff member.
Though Green’s gender was unique in the booming field of illustrators at the time, she was hardly alone: she was part of a growing generation of female artists, and, along with Jessie Willcox Smith and Violet Oakley, was part of a posse known as the Red Rose Girls, named after the inn where they lived and worked together in Philadelphia.
Despite what television producers from Aaron Spelling to Andy Cohen would like you to believe, Green and her contemporaries weren’t prone to back-stabbing or cat-fights. On the contrary, they were known for advocating for one another, helping others who typified that era’s “New Woman,” that is: women who left the kitchen and made it on their own. (This “New Woman” was the foremother of the “career woman” of the eighties and today’s “Liz Lemon” trying to“have it all,” because even a century after Green signed with Harper’s, society still has to label/problematize women who dare do what men do all the time, through all of time.)
Anyway, in celebration of Green’s trailblazing career, I’ve rounded up 25 of the nearly 200 of her images found at the Library of Congress’ website. Some are included simply because they’re gorgeous; others because they’re gothic, a favorite genre of Green’s and some of which remind me mightily of Charles Vess’ work on DC Comics’ Books of Magic series; and others are included simply because of their titles: Removed from the context of the stories they illustrated, some are given new weight against the backdrop of contemporary debates over gender and sex –. I particularly like the ones that appear to invert gender stereotypes, e.g. image #13, “Monsieur Brisson visibly shuddered and paled.” — others are just amusing, like image #22, “I observed it, a new ceiling.” LOL!
But seriously, check ’em out. They’re lovely.
1. “Life Was Made for Love and Cheer,” 1909:
2. Phil’s Hallowe’en,” 1899. [I almost used this in my book, The Log Cabin: An Illustrated History, but didn’t.]
3. “Come, Now. These are garnets, not emeralds,” 1910.
4. “They don’t call them second-hand; they call them antiques,” 1903:
5. “The Journey,” 1909
6. “On the rocks a poet stood with uncovered head,” 1908:
7. “A gentle shadow had fallen upon him,” 1902. [This particularly reminds me of Books of Magic.]
8. “The mammoth thing stirred — lifted — and swung,” 1902:
9. “It was worse than creaking, creeping noises,” 1903:
10. “A shape moved suddenly past me and into the flame,” 1923:
11. “Children outdoors with black cat,” 1923.
12. “He knew that he was not dreaming,” 1907:
13. “Monsieur Brisson visibly shuddered and paled,” 1906:
14. “‘What is it, Sonny,’ asked the florist,” 1908:
15. “I admit the question is an impertinent one,” 1912:
16. “You are thrusting life aside without knowing what it means,” 1910.
17. “Halley’s Comet at dawn,” 1909:
18. “Rising vigorously out of the earth was a little rose bush,” 1908:
19. “When spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil – Heber,” 1918.
20. “Pausing in her work, as a hint for him to advance,” 1915.
21. “It’s alright, you shall be urged enough,” 1918. [I love how cruisey and gay this one is….]
22. “I observed it, a new ceiling,” 1920:
23. “Kenneth was the bookish one,” 1907:
24. “If she had ceased to be a dryad in a wood, it was to become the Armida of an enchanted garden,” 1915:
25. “And to think, with such a woman there was also a legacy!” 1920:
[And for more Found in the LOC, click here.]