So many women artists, past and present, have found inspiration in “old wives tales” that it has been difficult to limit this article to just sixteen of us. Below, you’ll find information on all the women whose work appears on these pages, along with links to websites where you can view more of their art.In addition, we also recommend seeking out the fairy tale works of the following book illustrators and gallery artists: Angela Barrett, Petah Coyne, Kinuko Y. Craft,Yvonne Gilbert, Carrianne Hendrickson, Trina Schart Hyman, Lauren Mills,Kiki Smith, Sarah Moon, Shelly Silver, Diane Stanley, Nancy Wiley, and Lizbeth Zwerger.The fairy tale photographs of Cindy Smith can be found in the book Fitcher’s Bird (and in Vanity Fair magazine, 1985). Other women artists who make use of mythic, folkloric, and magical symbolism include Evelyn De Morgan,Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Sulamith Wulfing, Marja Lee Kruÿt,Kris Waldheer, Susan Seddon Boulet, Aria Nadii, and the book artists of Papaveria Press.
Anne Anderson was born in Scotland in 1874 and spent her childhood in Argentina. In 1912 she married Alan Wright, an illustrator, and settled in Berkshire, England. Wright’s own career was in a slump until he began to collaborate with his wife — Wright focusing on birds and animals, and Anderson drawing everything else. They collaborated on a wide variety of drawings and paintings over the course of their lives; Anderson also illustrated in her own right, publishing over one hundred books.
The Honorable Eleanor Vere Boyle (1825-1916) was the author and illustrator of popular children’s books including Child’s Play, A New Child’s Play, and Days and Hours in a Garden. She also illustrated the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, Beauty and the Beast, and other fairy tales. Born in Scotland, Boyle lived in Somerset, England during the years of her marriage to Richard Boyle, a rector. After his death she moved to Huntercombe Manor in Buckinghamshire, where she wrote and illustrated gardening books.
Wendy Froud is a sculptor and doll-maker whose art has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Born and raised in Detroit, she became a puppet-maker and sculptor for the Jim Henson studios in London and New York, creating such beloved film characters as Yoda for the Star Wars movies and the Gelflings for Dark Crystal. Her art is featured in three children’s books — A Midsummer Night’s Faery Tale, The Winter Child, and The Faeries of Spring Cottage. A collection of her work, The Art of Wendy Froud, is forthcoming from Imaginosis.
Jennie Harbour was an English illustrator of fairy tale books in the 1920s and ’30s. We’d be grateful to hear from anyone who knows more biographical details about this talented artist.
Jessie M. King (1875 — 1949) was born in Scotland and attended the Glasgow School of Fine Art where, unusual for the day, women artists were taught alongside men and encouraged to seek professional careers. She also studied in France and Italy.King’s output of work was astonishingly varied: book illustrations, posters, murals, wallpaper, fabrics, costumes, jewelry, pottery, and interior design. She and her husband, painter Ernest Archibald Taylor, divided their time between an art studio in Paris, the island of Arran, and the Green Gate Close artists colony in Kirkudbright, Scotland.
Virginia Lee was born in Devon, England, studied Art and Design at Exeter College, and received a degree in Illustration from Kingston University in London. She then worked as a sculptor on the New Zealand set of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.She now lives in Brighton, where she is illustrating two children’s books for Frances Lincoln, Publisher. She works in a variety of media, including oils, pastels, pencils, fimo, and clay. Her work is inspired by myth, fairy tales, and legends of metamorphosis. "The merging of characteristics between different species creates a very powerful language," she writes,"one that I love to explore through my art, enabling me to tap into the unconcious."
Caz Love studied at CalArts, and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Love specializes in three–dimensional work incorporating conceptual, craft–based and mixed–media elements, often using garments as representations of a woman’s body and her experiences."The Handless Maiden" is a three–dimensional piece based on The Handless Maiden fairy tale and related to Love’s Sleeping Beauty installation. She calls the installation "an homage to the thorns and raptures, the innocence of first kisses and schoolgirl crushes, the beauty and magnitude of true love, and the wounds of loves’ endings."
Paula Rego was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1935, and studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1952–56. She married the English artist Victor Wilding and has lived mainly in London since 1963, where she is one of the most revered artists in Britain today. She has drawn inspiration from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, Disney animations,and children’s stories. Her art has appeared in major exhibitions at the National Gallery, Tate Britain, and other museums in the UK, Portugal, and around the world. It has also been featured in several art books, including Paula Rego: The Complete Graphic Works (Thames and Hudson), Paula Rego’s Nursery Rhymes (Thames and Hudson) and Paula Rego (Rizolli).
Forest Rogers studied stage and costume design at Carnegie–Mellon in Pittsburg before turning to sculpture and illustration. She has also worked as a freelancer in toy design and the liturgical arts. Rogers has long been enchanted by magical tales and has illustrated several, including theRussian fairy tale Vasilisa the Beautiful. Her interest in folklore and myth is also evident in her three–dimensional work. She is an accomplished maker of "art dolls" (one–of–a–kind mixed–media figurative sculptures) and a member of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA). She lives in Rhode Island.
Ruth Sanderson graduated from the Paier College of Art in Connecticut in 1974. Since then she has written and illustrated books for children of all ages, including retellings of fairy tales such as The Crystal Mountain, Papa Gatto, The Firebird, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Her original fairy tale, The Enchanted Wood,received the Ima S. Black Award and the Hossier Award. Her paintings have been exhibited at museums and galleries across the U.S. Sanderson lives in Connecticut with her husband and two daughters.
Adrienne Ségur was a French illustrator of fairy tale books, born in 1901. Little is known about her life, and it is not known if she was related to the Comtess de Ségur (1799–1874), the famous fairy tale writer. She illustrated numerous French fairy tale volumes in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Her work gained a devoted following in the U.S.when Golden Books published three of her collections under the titles The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, The Snow Queen and Other Stories, and The Big Book of Cats. The illustration used in this exhibition was published in a French collection of Hans Christian Andersen tales and has never appeared in the U.S.. We’d be grateful to hear from anyone who knows more about this influential artist.
Jessica Wilcox Smith was born in Philadelphia in 1863. She studied art at the School of Design for Women, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and with master illustrator Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute. She went on to become one of the most esteemed illustrators in America, creating art for over 60 books and over 250 periodicals.She created an unconventional, art–centered home and life with two other women artists, Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, at the Red Rose Inn in Philadelphia. Their story is told in the excellent book The Red Rose Girls, by Alice A. Carter.
Helen Stratton was an English painter, portraitist, and illustrator at the turn of the 19th century, highly influenced by the imagery and ideals of the Pre–Raphaelite movement. She lived in Kensington and Chelsea, London where she created many illustrations for children’s fairy tales — including 400 illustrations for a popular edition of tales by Hans Christian Andersen.
Margaret Tarrant was born in London in 1888. She studied at the Clapham School of Art, the Heatherly School of Art, and the Guildford School of Art. She illustrated her first book (Kingsley’s The Water Babies) when she was twenty, and went on to illustrate books, posters, greeting cards and calendars for the next fifty years. In addition to fairy tales and romantic subjects,she also created popular religious paintings, traveling to Palestine for inspiration in 1936. In the latter part of her life she lived in Cornwall with fellow artist Molly Brett. When she died in 1959, Tarrant left the proceeds from her considerable artistic estate to twelve charities.
Connie Toebe was born and raised in Missouri, and currently resides with her husband in Chicago, Illinois. She is a multi–disciplinary artist, creating boxes, photographs, collages, and a variety of other works. The inspiration for her dreamlike imagery often comes from fairy tales and mythology; she has also been strongly influenced by the work of Surrealist artists Remdios Varo and Jean Cocteau. Toebe’s art has been exhibited andcollected across the United States, Canada, and England.
Jeanie Tomanek lives in Marietta, Georgia, and is represented by Trinity Gallery in Atlanta. Her paintings have appeared in many juried exhibitions throughout the Southeast, and can be found in numerous public and private collections in the United States and Europe. "Literature, folktales and myths often inspire my exploration of the feminine archetype," she writers. "My figures often bear the scars and imperfections, that, to me, characterize the struggle to become.In my work I use oils, acrylic, pencil and thin glazes to create a multi-layered surface that may be scratched through, written on, or painted over to reveal and excavate the images that feel right for the work." Also a poet, Tomanek’s poems have appeared in Poets, Artists and Madmen, The Birmingham Poetry Review and Poetry Motel.
Terri Windling is a painter, writer, and folklorist who often works with fairy tale themes. Her paintings and collages have been exhibited in museums and galleries in America, England, and France, and have been featured in two art books Ancient Spirit: Modern Voice, published by the Mythic Imaginations Institute, and Fées, a survey of fairy tale art from the 12th to 21st centuries, published by Éditions Hoëbeke in Paris. She lives in Devon, England and Tucson, Arizona.