Thanks partially to the leaps and bounds in the printing industry and its technology and the sudden abundance of new periodicals, journals, books, newspapers and other printed materials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there existed a great need for illustrators to help fill the printed page to the brim with imagery. Many gifted women were able to rise to the occasion during the Golden Age of American illustration, and took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate their capable skills.
One such artist was Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954), whose delicate, wistful and beautiful illustrations graced the pages of Harper’s Monthly Magazine, where she became the first women staff artist back in 1901.
Born in 1871 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where many great artists and illustrators of the time lived worked and taught, Ms. Green studied both at Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied under the tutelage of numerous notable artists, including Howard Pyle (Drexel) and Thomas Eakins (PAoFA). Her father had been an artist-correspondent during the Civil War and played an instrumental role in piquing his daughter’s interest in art from an early age.
In her time at Drexel, she was commissioned at the request of Howard Pyle to create a mural to honor late artist Edwin Austin Abbey. Ms. Green teamed-up with two other notable women artists of the era, Violet Oakley and Jessie Wilcox Smith, with whom she shared a couple of productive artist-in-residences outside of Philadelphia, plus a lifelong friendship. Additionally, these three helped found The Plastic Club, initially formed as a women artists group, as there were plenty of men’s clubs in Philadelphia; the group, which, in 1991 expanded to include men, is still active today.
Even though she eventually married educator and fellow artist Huger Elliot in 1911 and subsequently moved up to various locations in New England, back to Philadelphia, then New York City, and finally back to Philadelphia, Ms. Green maintained her career, becoming an even more prolific artist than she had been in her earlier years.
Waldrep, Mary Carolyn. Woman Illustrators of the Golden Age. Dover Publications Inc. 2010. Print.
A Petal from the Rose: Illustrations by Elizabeth Shippen Green. The Library of Congress. Accessed 5/23/15.
Elizabeth Shippen Green: An American Imagist. National Museum of American Illustration. Accessed 5/23/15.
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