Rare, beautifully framed December 1915 Saturday Evening Post cover by Sarah Stilwell


Cover: Saturday Evening Post
    Squirrel on Branch with Girl Below
    Sarah Stilwell 
    December 18, 1915 Issue
    Image Size: H 15.00” x W 11.00”
    Matted & Framed:  H 22.00” x W 18.00”
    Framed Price: $290.00
    Whiteglove handling and shipping: $38.00

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 December 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.

There and thereafter, SS’s images reflect the styles of her female classmates far more than they do the style of her instructor. "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 mature style reflect the cross-pollinations that were constantly occurring in the community of artists Pyle gathered around him. SS’s instructor no doubt approved of her artistic development because in each picture SS succeeded in expressing an alluring new idea.

1904 was, as we now say, a breakout year for Sarah Stilwell. Her connection with Mary Mapes Dodge strengthened during a second commission, this one to illustrate a new issue in Dodge’s Rhymes and Jingle series. SS's 1915 cover illustration is an excellent examples of her mature style.

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