Though you may not know her name (I did not until I did my research for this post) you certainly are familiar with her work. She was France Isabelle Brundage, born June 1854: creator of so many of those sweet Victorian images floating through our Victoriana-hungry culture.
You perhaps are more likely to know of Lynd Ward, born in June 1905: illustrator of some of our best-known children's books: The Biggest Bear; Johnny Tremain; The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge.
I am grouping these two illustrators in one post for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to highlight the incredibly wide range of artistic expression found in children's books. This variety is present not just in contemporary books; it is there as well in books from earlier generations.
I confess that the images I'm posting do not show the dramatic differences between these two illustrator's styles that I'm wanting to highlight! though the differences become quite clear when one looks at the bodies of work of both, and considers the subject matter of the two. But there's another reason I am grouping these two illustrators together: they both had at least one other side to their work.
Brundage illustrated classic works for children in a style quite different from her sweet Victoriana---illustrations that are not familiar to today's audiences.
And Lynd Ward---considered a precursor and mentor of the modern gothic novel---created a body of tortuous, nightmarish images that is far removed in content from his work for his younger children's books. In fact it was difficult to find pieces from one of his wordless books that I could comfortably post on this family-friendly blog.
The reality is that children's book illustrators---like all artists---express their creativity in multiple forms: some pleasant, some unpleasant, some, perhaps, downright horrible. But why should that be surprising? Artists, children's book illustrators included, are simply expressing visually, for the rest of us, the complexity of being a human being. I urge you to do your own research into the work of both of these outstanding artists. As for the layout of this post, and my valiant attempts to make it legible for my readers---Blogger, I concede defeat. You have won---but only for the moment---in this battle of graphic design.