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June 27, 2001
Exhibition on American Illustrator Opens
The Library of Congress celebrates the career of Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954), American illustrator and member of the celebrated artistic trio known as "The Red Rose Girls," in a new exhibition in the Swann Gallery. "A Petal from the Rose: Illustrations by Elizabeth Shippen Green" opens on June 28 and closes on September 29. The Swann Gallery, adjacent to the Visitor's Center in the Jefferson Building, is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
"A Petal from the Rose," the first exhibition in decades to focus solely on Green's art, features a selection of original illustrations, selected from more than 140 drawings donated by her in 1933 and preserved in the Library's Cabinet of American Illustration. Featured in the exhibition is Life was made for love and cheer, a watercolor she created early in her career as a means to celebrate her close friendship with fellow artists Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith. The three prominent women artists, known as "The Red Rose Girls," shared two homes outside of Philadelphia, the Red Rose Inn and Cogslea.
Green was born in Philadelphia, acquiring her first taste of the art world from her father, an artist of local repute. At 17, she set up her first studio in a corner of her bedroom. At 18 she published her first illustration, which began her lengthy, distinguished professional career. In 1901 she was awarded an exclusive contract with Harper's Monthly, achieving a triumph that instantly elevated her into the select company of famed illustrators such as Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) and Howard Pyle (1853-1911). Few women illustrators achieved such remarkable success in a time when the field was highly competitive.
Her marriage in 1911 to Huger Elliott, a professor of architecture, pulled her away from the Red Rose Girls and Cogslea, the last home she shared with her friends. In spite of moves for her husband's career, she continued to be a prolific artist, making drawings for Harper's as late as 1924 and producing illustrations for numerous books, graphic art for popular organizations and causes, and advertisements. The 1922 edition of Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare contains some of her finest book illustrations, a striking black-and-white ornamental title page, and other elements of exquisite black-and-white decoration. She also created imaginative illustrations for an abecedarius with nonsense verse by her husband, which was published in 1947. Ambitious and enormously productive from the early days of her career, Green established a unique place as one of the most sought-after women illustrators of popular literature during what is considered the golden age of American illustration (1880-1920).
The exhibition and accompanying brochure are funded by the generous support of the Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Fund for Caricature and Cartoon. The Swann Gallery showcases the collections of the Library of Congress in rotating exhibitions and promotes the ongoing Swann Foundation program in the study of cartoon, caricature and illustration, while also offering a provocative and informative selection of works by past masters. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of nearly 2,000 works of cartoon art representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. He developed the collection specifically to promote the preservation and connoisseurship of original cartoon and illustration drawings. Among the collection's highlights are sketches by such European masters as Guillaume Chevalier Gavarni and Richard Doyle, works by celebrated American illustrators, including John Held Jr., and Ralph Barton, American newspaper cartoon strip works by such pioneering cartoonists as Richard F. Outcault and Winsor McCay, and contemporary cartoons and illustrations by renowned artists, including Edward Sorel, Anita Siegel, Jean-Claude Suarez, Andre Francois, and Eugene Mihaesco.
An illustrated checklist, printed in color, is available to visitors.
More information on this exhibition as well as the Library of Congress's print and drawing collections is available through the Swann Foundation's Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/swannhome.html, by e-mailing: [email protected], or by calling Martha Kennedy, Curatorial Assistant and Exhibition Curator, at (202) 707-9115 or Harry Katz, Head Curator, Prints and Photographs Division, at (202) 707-8696.
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