Sarah Stilwell cover illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post" (1915): rare, beautifully framed antique
Saturday Evening Post
Image Size: H 15.00” x W 11.00”
Matted & Framed: H 22.00” x W 18.00”
Framed Price: $290.00
Packaging and shipping approximately $25.00
In 1902, SS received a commission from Century Magazine to illustrate Josephine Daskin's poem, "Christmas Hymn of Children." The request was for an image conveying the mood of the poem and a graphic to embellish the text. Readers of Collier’s June issue did not know they were viewing an artistic transformation. In the halftone B&W lithograph that appears in this magazine, the artist has dropped the wooden form that defined her work in 1898. In its place, she is exploring the inner life of her subjects. This was, of course, what Pyle had encouraged her to do.
The following year she proved she had completed the transformation of her art and mastered Pyle’s approach. She did this in a pictorial essay which appeared in St. Nicholas’s December 1903 issue. The magazine’s pace-setting editor, Mary Mapes Dodge, published half a dozen of SS’s drawings in a piece called “Happy Days.” In these pictures, SS softened her compositions and highlighted her characters.
1904 was, as we now say, a breakout year for Sarah Stilwell. Her connection with Mary Mapes Dodge strengthened as she completed a second commission, this one to illustrate a new issue in Dodge’s Rhymes and Jingle series.
There and thereafter, SS’s images reflect the styles of her female artist friends at the Plastic Club in Philadelphia, most notably Jessie Willcox Smith. "Design” becomes a common descriptor in discussions of her work. She is frequently complimented for her interpretation of the “Art Nouveau” trend that was influential in the early decades of the 20th century. These characteristics of her mature style reflect the cross-pollinations that were constantly occurring in the community of artists Howard Pyle gathered around him in the last years of the 19th century and first years of the 20th century.
SS's 1915 cover illustration is an excellent example of her mature style in which she emphasized children exploring the wonders of the world around them.