Saturday, March 6, 2010

Women in Folklore Month: Elenore Plaisted Abbott

Today I am focusing on an illustrator of fairy tales. One of my favorites is Elenore Plaisted Abbott who I found by chance several years ago.

From The Rose Valley Museum and Historical Society listing about Abbott:

Elenore Plaisted Abbott was a nationally known illustrator, scenic designer, and artist (both landscape and portrait). She was born in Lincoln, Maine. She studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She also studied in Paris, where her work was exhibited at the Academie des Beaux Arts. Upon her return in 1899 she enrolled at the Drexel Institute, where she studied with Howard Pyle. Sometime later (between 1916 and 1919), Elenore wrote to Pyle’s secretary that the only work she was glad to have done was under Mr. Pyle.

She gained a strong reputation as an illustrator. She would take photographs for later oil paintings, something illustrators were known to do. Her work appeared in many magazines, such as Scribner’s, Saturday Evening Post, and Harper’s Magazine. She also did illustrations for many books, including Kidnapped and Treasure Island (Robert Lewis Stevenson), Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss), Old Fashioned Girl (Louisa May Alcott) and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Evan Nagel Wolf, in the 1919 supplement of International Studio, wrote “Elenore Abbott loves her fairy tales, and no child who receives such a book will be disappointed... Elenore Abbott is not on the surface a clever artist; her active, vigorous yet idealist’s mind is brought into subjection and guides the long sensitive fingers that hold the water color brush.”

Abbott avoided the sentimentality that pervaded many of the illustrations by women during this time period, but retained the romanticism that appeals to me. I also loved the endpapers to her book, shown below, which I scanned and spent a significant amount of time cleaning up from their yellowed and fading state.

Of course, there is a Elenore Plaisted Abbott page on SurLaLune as well as a CafePress shop filled with products featuring her illustrations. I also chose her Cinderella as my favorite pair of shoes on Zazzle. I own a pair and love them.

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