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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Trailblazing Illustrator, Elizabeth Shippen Green

Elizabeth Shippen Green

Elizabeth Shippen Green

Younger readers may not fully appreciate how difficult it was for women to break into the highly competitive field of illustration. For many years, men were routinely hired for advertising art, newspaper and magazine illustration, and children’s book illustration. 

Elizabeth Shippen Green, born in 1871 and dying in 1954, was one of the earliest female illustrators to win high regard, helping to open the door a little wider for the women who followed her,

Her father was an artist-correspondent during the Civil War. He encouraged her to study art, supporting her as she attended various art schools.

Elizabeth Shippen GreenShe studied with Thomas Anshutz, Robert Vonnoh, Thomas Eakins, and Howard Pyle. “She credited Pyle with teaching her the importance of visualizing, then realizing, the dramatic moment key to illustrating a narrative text.” (Library of Congress)

While studying with Pyle at the Brandywine School, Elizabeth met Jessie Willcox Smith and Violet Oakley. The three of them became fast friends, supportive of each other’s careers in illustration. They moved into The Red Rose Inn in Villanova, Pennsylvania, with Henrietta Cozens as their housekeeper.

The Five Little PigsLater, they moved to Cogslea in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Because of their residence together, they were referred to ever after as The Red Rose Girls. These three and several other women formed The Plastic Club, meant to encourage one another professionally. 

Elizabeth was one of the most recognized illustrators in the country because of her assignments for St. Nicholas Magazine, Woman’s Home Companion, The Saturday Evening Post, and a 23-year exclusive contract with Harper’s Magazine. In 1922, she illustrated a beautiful edition of Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.

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Read more about Elizabeth Shippen Green:

The Red Rose Girls: an Uncommon Story of Art and Love, by Alice A. Carter

By a Woman’s Hand: Illustrators of the Golden Age, ed. by Mary Carolyn Waldrep, Dover Fine Art

National Museum of American Illustration

Library of Congress, “A Petal from the Rose” exhibit

Some of her work in the Library of Congress’ collection

American Art Archives, showing some of her advertising art

2 Responses to Trailblazing Illustrator, Elizabeth Shippen Green

  1. Cathy Ballou Mealey November 21, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    Loved this feature! Thank you for the list of resources. I look forward to reading more about her work.

    • Vicki Palmquist November 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

      You’re welcome, Cathy. I enjoyed learning more about her myself. I’ve collected Jessie Willcox Smith’s art for many years. I figured it was time to learn more about The Red Rose Girls!

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