Jessie Willcox Smith

(American, 1863 - 1935)

A pre-eminent illustrator and student of Howard Pyle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jessie Willcox Smith was known for her Good Housekeeping magazine covers of which she did several hundred and for other children's story illustrations. Smith was educated at the School of Design for Women and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1885 to 1888, and in 1888, had her first illustrations published in St. Nicholas magazine.  In 1894, she began study with Howard Pyle, who made illustration seem happy and easy, an attitude she welcomed after the what she perceived as the serious, moody, coldness of the atmosphere at the Pennsylvania Academy.  Pyle teamed Smith with Violet Oakley to do colour chromolithographs for Houghton Mifflin's edition of Longfellow's Evangeline. A major landmark in her success was illustrating in 1905 A Child's Garden of Verses, and she also illustrated The Little Mother Goose, in 1915. Smith also illustrated Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Heidi by Johanna Spyri.  From 1918 to 1933, her paintings appeared regularly on the covers of Good Housekeeping magazine. She shared a studio with Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green at 1523 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, and in 1902, they moved to The Red Rose, a remodeled colonial inn on a country estate, and they worked and lived there with several of their parents.  Later the three women lived together in Chestnut Hill, and when Green married the threesome broke up, and Smith lived and worked the remainder of her life at her home in Coghill, near Philadelphia, dying on May 3, 1935.