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Jessie Willcox Smith

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September 6, 1863 -

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Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935), was a Philadelphia born artist. Her art career began after she returned to Philadelphia from Cincinnati, and began sketching. Smith enrolled at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women but thought it too easy, so promptly switched to Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. While studying, she met Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley who would soon become her close friends. The three women began sharing a studio first in downtown Philadelphia and then at the old Red Rose Inn Estate in Villanova, where they continued to live and work for many years. This trio of strong, female artists became known as the Red Rose Girls. Their body of work contributed heavily to the Golden Age of American illustration. As an illustrator, Smith was extremely successful and respected for her craft. She became an illustrator for magazines including Harper’s, Scribner’s, Collier’s, Women’s’ Home Companion, Century, and McClure’s. She also developed a long lasting relationship with Good Housekeeping which featured her illustrations for 15 years and had her images grace the cover over 200 times. Smith’s illustrations often included depictions of the parent-child relationship. She also illustrated nearly 40 books. Jessie Willcox Smith’s career stopped in 1933 due to failing eyesight and she passed away only two years later in 1935. She was considered “one of the greatest pure illustrators”.

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