She was well known for her portrayal of charmingly innocent, carefree children. She was one of the most prominent female illustrators in the United States during the "Golden Age of American illustration, which lasted from the 1880s until shortly after World War I. She was a prolific contributor to respected books and magazines during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She illustrated stories and articles for clients such as Collier's Weekly, Harper's McClure's, and the Ladie's Home Journal. During the 1920s, Smith's illustrations were less important to her interest, and she began to focus on portrait painting.
Her father was an investment broker. Jessie grew up as a privileged daughter, attending private elementary schools, then at the age of sixteen she was sent to Cincinnati, Ohio, to finish her education. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher. Then found that the physical demands of working with children too strenuous for her. Then she was persuaded to join her cousin in art classes, Smith realized she had a talent for drawing.
After graduating the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1888, Smith joined Ladies Home Journal magazine the same year in the advertising department to support herself. The job itself was entry-level, consisting of Smith finishing rough sketches, designing borders, and preparing advertising art for the magazine. She realized she needed further training and in 1894 enrolled in the Drexel University, there Smith met two women with whom she would share talent, mutual interests, and lifelong friendship; Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Violet Oakley. Both were also under Howard Pyle's supervision. The women named themselves "The Red Rose Girls" after the Red Rose Inn where they lived and worked together for four years. When they lost that property they named their new shared home and workplace "Cogslea," drawn from their initials. It was here that Smith began to develop particularly strongly as an illustrator, and she lived at Cogslea for the rest of her life.
Her wholesome, sensitive illustrations have graced over 40 children’s books and hundreds of national magazine articles and covers. Willcox-Smith also created ads for Cream of Wheat, Campbell’s Soup, the Red Cross and Ivory Soap.
See Wikipedia for further information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessie_Willcox_Smith.
Below are two recently sold items with the public domain art of Jessie Willcox Smith.
Vintage Black Haired Twins Dressed in Red - Wilcox Ornament by MagnoliaVintage
Ornament sold to customer in California: Sweet vintage design by Jessie Willcox Smith, American artist and illustrator. Ca. 1910. Adorable black-haired twin girls, dressed in red playing "Pat a Cake." Red Geraniums in the window. Sweet.
The Twins ~ Jessie Wilcox Smith Postcard by MagnoliaVintage
Postcard sold to customer in New Jersey. Sweet vintage design by Jessie Willcox Smith, American artist and illustrator. Ca. 1910. Adorable black-haired twin girls, dressed in red playing "Pat a Cake." Red Geraniums in the window. Sweet.