In an era when long-standing social and artistic traditions constrained most women artists to certain types of subjects, Elizabeth Shippen Green was contracted to illustrate a wide variety of stories. Concentrating solely on the story at hand, she sought to create images that captured the most dramatic moments of the story, as she has done in this scene, one of the few oil paintings she created. Green's ability to depict this "masculine" subject in vivid colors attests to her confidence and success in fulfilling her artistic vision.
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The Maker of Rainbows and Other Fairy Tales and Fables by Richard Le Gallienne incorporated this illustration by Green in 1912. This reproduction allows one to view Green's illustrations as they were most commonly experienced by the public--in published books and magazines alongside stories.
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Examples of Green's late work, the illustrations for this special edition of a work about Shakespeare's plays, highlight her versatility as an illustrator who conscientiously reconstructs details of period dress, as seen in the frontispiece. The ornamental title page underscores her gifts as a decorative designer. She creates a pleasing harmony between boldly outlined figures that allude to tragedy and comedy, for example, and finely drawn decorative details.
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Late in her career, Green and her husband Huger Elliott collaborated on an abecedarius, for which he composed nonsense verses and she created fanciful illustrations. Friends observed that each of the couple possessed a lively, witty sense of humor and love of wordplay. In the pages for the initial K, East meets West in verse and image as Kublai Khan greets the popular British actress Fanny Kemble.
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