The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love

The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love

The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love

The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love

Synopsis

This richly illustrated biography traces the lives of three talented women artists at the turn of the century who took over the Red Rose Inn, a picturesque old estate on Philadelphia's Main Line, and made a pact to live together forever--until one of them wreaked havoc by leaving the fold to marry. 175 illustrations, 60 in full color.

Excerpt

When Violet Oakley walked into Howard Pyle's illustration class in 1897, she noticed Jessie Smith immediately and was intimidated by her skill and confidence. "Still a little afraid of you--as that first day in Howard Pyle's class!" she wrote to her friend thirty-three years later. Tall, serene Jessie, who was eleven years older than Violet, had not been idle in the seven years since her graduation from the Academy. In 1894, when Pyle selected her to join thirty-nine other promising students in his first class, she was already a competent working professional employed in the advertising department of the Ladies' Home Journal, where she produced product drawings of everything from stoves to soap. She earned extra income doing freelance work. Fifteen of her illustrations were included in a book of poetry for children published in 1892, and her drawings had already appeared in some of the nation's leading periodicals: Harper's Round Table, Harper's Young People, Ladies' Home Journal, and Saint Nicholas Magazine.

Elizabeth Green was also in the group, although she made no immediate impression on Oakley. Like Smith, Green was a charter member of Pyle's first class and an established professional illustrator. Shortly after her graduation from the Academy she was offered a job drawing fashion illustrations for the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, although it was her confidence as much as her ability that secured her the position. When she arrived for her job interview an editor showed her a drawing by an experienced illustrator and asked if she could duplicate it. When--without a moment's hesitation--she declared that she could, she was hired on the spot. The young artist worked diligently at Strawbridge's until 1895 when she was offered a more lucrative situation and joined her friend Jessie Smith at Ladies' Home Journal The editors at the Journal made good use of Green's previous experience and put her to work illustrating a series of fashion articles. The job was steady although not challenging. For two years she supplied drawings for articles offering advice on diverse fashion concerns--everything from "Suitable Mourning Costumes" to "Dainty Fashions in Lingerie."

It is not surprising that when the Drexel Institute announced that Pyle would teach an illustration class, the course was immediately oversubscribed, and working professionals like Jessie Smith and Elizabeth Green were anxious . . .

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