"Dream Blocks"   Lot no. 944

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By Jessie Willcox Smith (American- 1863-1935)

1908 (Estimated)
28.00" x 19.75", Framed 39.00" x 30.75"
Mixed Media on Board



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Exhibitions: Allentown Art Museum, At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic (June 3- September 9, 2013)


Literature: Aileen C. Higgins, Dream Blocks, New York, 1908, illustrated in color as frontispieceMichael S. Schnessel, Jessie Willcox Smith, Toronto, Canada, 1977, pp. 45, 94Edward D. Nudelman, Jessie Willcox Smith: A Bibliography, Gretna, Louisiana, 1989, A. 26, illustrated in color p. 50 Edward D. Nudelman, Jessie Willcox Smith: American Illustrator, Gretna, Louisiana, 1990, pp. 34, 48Alice A. Carter, The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love, New York, 2000, p. 143

JVJ Publishing, Jim Vadeboncoeur; The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Images, Palo Alto, CA. Issue#13, Fall 2014


Notes: This work is the first of fourteen illustrations for Aileen C. Higgins' Dream Blocks published by Duffield & Co. in 1908.Crafted especially for the frontispiece of the children's poetry book of the same name, Dream Blocks, juxtaposes elegant design and clean rendering with effective handling of paint. The window itself serves as a natural frame, from which the child protrudes and inside the frame, the wider night is neatly contained. We know where our allegiance lies in this story, and we are getting a good look at our hero: a fresh-faced, contemplative young boy just before bedtime, basking in moonlight. Everything we need to know about the contents of the book is artfully captured in this single image. In fact, Willcox felt so strongly about the design that she revisited the pose of the child on the same window ledge, redcorated with the additions of a hanging Red Cross, a Christmas wreath and curtains, for her famous World War I poster from 1918, Have You a Red Cross Service Flag?

Explore related art collections: Books / Children / 1900s / Family / Brandywine School / $100,000 & Above / Women Artists

See all original artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith


            Jessie Wilcox Smith never married, but throughout her long career, specialized in drawing and painting mothers, babies and children. Her training was acquired at the School of Design for Women, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Thomas Eakins, and at the Drexel Institute under Howard Pyle.

            She had begun as a kindergarten teacher but turned to an art career with the stimulus and assistance of Howard Pyle. Some of her best-known illustrations were for books: Little Women, Heidi, A book of Old Stories and Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. She also painted a great many illustrations for magazines such as Collier's and McClure's, and did nearly 200 covers for Good Housekeeping. For several years, she shared house and studio with two other Pyle students, Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley. Working in close proximity they also strongly influenced eachother's work as well as that of several other Pyle - school women. This relationship is told in The Red Rose Girls by Alice Carter. Smith painted and exhibited widely, revieving many awards, a Silver Metal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. She was also commissioned to paint many portraits of children.

            Two other biographies, Jessie Wilcox Smith by S. Michael Schnessel, and Jessie Wilcox Smith American Illustrator by Edward D. Nudelman (who also contributed A bibliography) have been published.