Jessie M. King's Pen and Ink Landscapes
from The International Studio - 1906
A Street Corner in Avignon
The following is a review of Jessie's lesser known work from 1906.
When an artist has been closely identified with a particular line, and by a new departure widens the field of activity, it is interesting to note the influence of early training and association on the later development. Those who know Jessie M. King only by her imaginative work in the quaint illustrations to "The Holy Grail," "The Defence of Guinevere," "Comos," and such tales, would marvel at the scope and versatility of her activity. Her success as an illustrator of books is widely known, but as a designer of book-covers, of wallpapers, and fabrics, of posters, of household articles, of trinkets and ornaments, she is known chiefly to those having business connections with those things; and now, in the midst of all this suddenly to turn her attention to landscapes and to produce something worthy of a "one man show" at Berlin and London, is surely an achievement remarkable for a woman. And all this is done by the medium of a pen, a fact that should considerably strengthen the idea of its mightiness.
It was on one of the romantic islands studded over the west coast of Scotland that the suggestion of a pen-and-ink landscape first presented itself to the artist; and the initial difficulty was a conflict between the new and the old, between nature and art, the desire to produce that which she saw, or to give rein to fertile fancy by presenting that which she imagined. To an artist of such a temperament, nature becomes a lesson-book from which she reads a story, giving to it her own accent.
Fidelity is commendable enough, but the creative faculty is beyond this: it gives an added interest and value to the work of the artist; it is the touch of individuality that stamps the effort of Jessie M. King, and that is so often lacking in the work of most women artists of to-day.
Take The House where Red Ridinghood's Grandmother lived, could anything be more suggestive of a place which a prowling, voracious wolf would select for a deed of unparalleled duplicity and cruelty? Yet the house is no figment of the imagination: it stands within a few miles of one of the great centres of civilisation: but the selection, the connection, and the weaving of the warp of fact with the woof of fancy, are the outcome of the imaginative genius of the artist.
Where Red Ridinghood's Grandmother Lived
A sojourn in a quaint German university town and in picturesque Avignon provided excellent opportunities for other delightful studies: and the marked development shown here when compared with the first landscapes made by the artist encourages the expectation that even more important work will yet be undertaken by her clever pen.
LinksJessie King, 1875-1949
Chronology of Illustrated Books
Beauty for Commerce: Publishers Bindings - 1830-1910
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