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Imagine That! Children's and Young Adult Illustrations from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection

June 24 - September 15, 2013


Imagine That! Children's and Young Adult Illustrations from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection spans 120 years of American illustration, focusing on original art created for children's and young adult books, periodicals and newspapers as well as science fiction and graphic art for young readers. It draws from the Museum's rich holdings and includes acrylics, watercolors, gouaches, oils, pen and ink drawings, and photography.

Visitors can unravel Walter Wick's photograph for I Spy: Treasure Hunt: A Picture Book of Riddles, see early Disney technology in an animation cel from Pinocchio, and immerse themselves in the adventure of N.C. Wyeth's painting for Treasure Island. Also featured is the work of Nicholas Napoletano, a recent graduate of the Illustration Program at the Hartford Art School who illustrated a children's story written by the Museum's Director Douglas Hyland. Look for The Mystery of West Rock on the bookshelves of the Museum Shop later this year.



(above: Gallery image #1 for Imagine That! Children's and Young Adult Illustrations from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection, New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo by Long Lin)


(above: Gallery image #2 for Imagine That! Children's and Young Adult Illustrations from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection, New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo by Long Lin)


(above: James Warhola, Down he climbed, faster than a falling bean, to show his mother the magic hen, 1989, Watercolor and ink on paper, 13 x 20 1/2 inches. Gift of the artist. Photo by Long Lin)


(above: James Tanaka, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, 1978, Gouache, 11 x 13 inches., New Britain Museum of American Art. Photo by Long Lin)


Wall panels from the exhibition

Introductory panel
Imagine That! Children's and Young Adult Illustrations from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection spans 120 years of American illustration, focusing on original art created for children's and young adult books, periodicals and newspapers as well as science-fiction and graphic art intended for young readers.
The exhibition features illustrations by renowned artists such as Howard Pyle, Harrison Cady, Hilary Knight and Walter Wick. The Museum is also delighted to debut the work of Nicholas Napoletano, one of the youngest talents in children's illustration today. He is a recent graduate of the Illustration Program at the Hartford Art School and has created the visuals for a children's story written by the Museum's very own Director Douglas Hyland. Look for The Mystery of West Rock on the bookshelves of the Museum Shop later this year. We are grateful to the Christine E. Moser Foundation for supporting this project.
Imagine That! draws from the Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection's rich holdings and includes acrylics, watercolors, gouaches, oils, pen and ink drawings and photographs. Many of the publications that feature the reproduced artworks are available for your reading and enjoyment in the Art Lab.
Wall texts relating to artists in the exhibition
Robin Brickman (b. 1954)
"Past Limestone Lambs and Ladies Weeping," 1998
For Midnight in the Cemetery, by Cheryl Harness
Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York, 1998
Watercolor, acrylic, and glue
Gift of the artist, 2007.95LIC
Past Limestone Lambs and Ladies Weeping fancifully captures a spooky moment in a graveyard at midnight. Together, the author, Cheryl Harness, and illustrator, Robin Brickman, created the story Midnight in the Cemetery to teach the letters of the alphabet to young readers. Brickman creates a frame for the text by including a moth holding the chain of a locket in the upper left corner.
Brickman's art, which blurs the boundary between illustration and paper sculpture, was photographed for the book. She has illustrated several other children's books including One Night in the Coral Sea (2005), Beaks (2002) and A Log's Life (1997).
Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933)
"She Had Never Been Up There Before," ca. 1906
For The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by John Fox, Jr. Scribner's, New York, 1908
Oil on canvas
Gift of Dr. Albert Yohn, 1978.28 LIC
Frederick Coffay Yohn's illustration depicts the rugged Appalachian setting for Fox's tale of rivalry between the Tolliver and Falin families. The young girl, June Tolliver, is shown in a striking red dress and bare feet, her face smudged with dirt. Her appearance embodies both the beauty and the remoteness of the Appalachian landscape. The contrast of the thick forest surrounding June and the hazy, pastel sky stretching far into the distance reflects the difficult decision she must make between her home and family and the possibility of romance ahead.
Yohn specialized in magazine illustrations and was best known for his historical and military subjects. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was one of the first American novels to sell over one million copies when it was published in 1908. In 1936, it became the first full-length Technicolor film to be shot outdoors.

Don Maitz (b. 1953)
"Balance of Power," 1979
For Balance of Power by Brian Stableford Wildside Press LLC, 1979
Oil on canvas
Gift of the artist, 1980.31 LIC
Balance of Power whimsically illustrates the cover to the fifth novel of the Daedalus Mission young adult science fiction series by Brian Stableford. What begins as a journey from Earth's colony to contact an indigenous alien species becomes a desperate attempt to prevent an impending conflict between the only two continents on the planet of Attica. The figure depicted is an omnipotent force thought to be directing the entire plot of the novel. Don Maitz infuses cosmic and fantastical imagery to give the reader a sense of "other worldliness."
Maitz, a Connecticut native, has been a freelance illustrator since 1975 and has earned national acclaim for his book covers and fantasy and science fiction art.
Tim O'Brien (b. 1964)
"GULF," 1993
For GULF by Robert Westall
Scholastic, Inc., New York, 1996
Oil on canvas
Gift of the artist, 1990.30 LIC
Set at the time of the Gulf War, Robert Westall's young adult novel GULF is a gripping story about Andy Higgins, a boy who undergoes a psychological change and begins to believe he is Latif, a young Iraqi soldier. Tim O'Brien's cover superimposes explosions and zooming fighter jets over Andy's awestruck face, his eyes glowing as bombs dot the horizon. Imagining the war through Latif's eyes, Andy's expression conveys all of the horror and confusion of war.
O'Brien, a New Haven native, is an accomplished illustrator and conceptual-realist artist. His most recent work includes the cover art for Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. His work has also been featured in Time Magazine, National Geographic and many other publications.
James Tanaka (b. 1917)
Concept by Robert Kraus
Mickey and Minnie Mouse, 1979
For Walt Disney Studios
Gouache on paper
Gift of Deborah Pfeiffenberger, 2003.26 LIC
Mickey and Minnie Mouse emerged from the studios of Walt Disney in 1928 and have been beloved characters ever since. In this image, James Tanaka has playfully depicted them along with other familiar Disney faces for a 1979 Mickey Mouse calendar.
Tanaka worked at Walt Disney Studios for many years, becoming Art Director for Merchandising in 1981.
Vincent Di Fate (b. 1945)
"Space is a Form Turned in on Itself," 1992
Cover illustration for Path of Fire by Charles Ingrid
Scholastic Inc., 1992
Acrylic on hardboard
Gift of the artist, 1999.38 LIC
incent Di Fate's illustration for Charles Ingrid's science fiction novel Path of Fire explores an unfamiliar galactic landscape. The story follows the journey of a gifted alien pilot named Palaton and a human named Ran. The two heroes are linked telepathically and must work together to prevent the outbreak of civil war and chaos on Palaton's planet.
Di Fate received the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1979, and his works can be seen at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Max Ginsburg (b. 1931)
"The Friends," 1981
For The Friends by Rosa Guy
Bantam Books, 1981
Oil on canvas
Gift of the artist, 1999.36 LIC
The Friends, based on Rosa Guy's coming-of-age story, features Edith and Phyllisia, who share a private moment while riding on the subway. Ginsburg clearly captures their knowing expressions and invites curiosity about their secret.
A long-term resident of New York City, Ginsburg paints ordinary people in everyday situations that range from crowded subway rides to solitary apartment interiors. Reflecting the spirit of social realism, he finds beauty in the unglamorous reality of everyday life.
Art Seiden (1923-2004)
"Noah's Ark," 1957
For The Story of Noah's Ark by Oscar Wiegle
Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1957
Gouache on paper
Gift of the artist, 1993.35 LIC
Art Seiden's illustration can be found on the endpapers -- the front and back pages -- of Oscar Weigle's 1957 book The Story of Noah's Ark. While most endpapers are left blank, or very simply decorated, children's books typically include a thematic illustration like this one. According to the Biblical story, Noah was commanded by God to construct the ark in order to save himself, his family and forty pairs of animals before the Great Flood would destroy the rest of mankind as punishment for its sins.
Seiden is best known for his children's book illustrations as well as his personal publications. Working mainly in watercolors and in gouache, he
completed over 300 book illustrations and authored 22 books.
N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)
"'One More Step, Mr. Hands,' said I, 'And I'll Blow Your Brains Out'," 1911
For Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Scribner's Classics, New York, 1911
Oil on canvas
Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1953.18
One More Step, Mr. Hands is one of 17 paintings N.C. Wyeth completed to bring Robert Louis Stevenson's immortal tale of pirates, treasure and mutiny to life. Survival hangs in the balance as the young hero of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins, squares off against the pirate Israel Hands. The sharp diagonal and fierce body language of the combatants make it one of the most dramatic and exciting of all American illustrations.
Wyeth's illustrations for Treasure Island were so successful that they led to his work on over 25 other Scribner's Classics, including Robinson Crusoe, The Last of the Mohicans and Robin Hood. Today, Wyeth is remembered as one of the most significant and prolific artists of the Golden Age of American Illustration.
Walt Disney Productions
"Scene from Pinocchio," 1939
For the animated film Pinocchio, 1940
Celluloid painting (animation cel)
Bequest of Helen Vibberts, 2006.88 LIC
In this scene from the second feature film ever created by Disney, Pinocchio and his adoptive father Geppetto navigate the choppy waters on a small raft after escaping from the belly of a whale. This painting on clear celluloid acetate provides a glimpse into the animation technology of the 1940s. For every slight movement of a character, a separate picture was made. The pictures were then photographed and projected on the screen in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion.
Most original Disney paintings were destroyed after the debut of each movie. Those that were released into the art market are included in many important museum collections throughout America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Phillips Collection, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and of course, the New Britain Museum of American Art.
Jean Day Zallinger (b. 1918)
"Great Horned Owl," 1995
From The Book of North American Owls
By Helen Roney Sattler, Clarion Books, New York, 1995
Watercolor and colored pencil
Gift of Rudy Zallinger, 1999.41 LIC
Jean Day Zallinger's illustration of the Great Horned Owl perched on a tree against a night sky appears on the cover of The Book of North American Owls. The book presents a comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand overview of the 21 North American owl species and highlights their habitats, sizes and behaviors.
Zallinger taught illustration and drawing classes at Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut. Much of her work centers on animals and plants, like Biography of a Leaf (1972), Sea Creatures Do Amazing Things (1981) and Discovering What Earthworms Do (1989).
Walter Wick (b. 1953)
"Arrival," 1999
For I Spy: Treasure Hunt: A Picture Book of Riddles by Jean Marzollo & Walter Wick
Scholastic Inc., New York, 1999
Archival C-print
Gift of Linda Cheverton-Wick and Walter Wick, 2005.1_2
Arrival comes from one of Walter Wick's many I Spy books that challenge us to find hidden objects in the picture. For I Spy: Treasure Hunt, A Picture Book of Riddles, Wick constructed an entire village in miniature scale and then photographed it from several points of view.
When looking at Arrival, try to "spy:"
"a seahorse, a thumbtack, a cone,
Scissors, a dolphin, a spoon, TELEPHONE;
A penny, a dog, and a rolling pin.
A hanger, a hatchet, and DUCK POND INN."
Award-winning author and illustrator Walter Wick lives and works in Connecticut. His first museum retrospective was held at the New Britain Museum of American Art in 2006.
Richard "Dick" Calkins (1895-1962)
"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Comic Strips," 1934
National Newspaper Service Syndicate
Ink on card
Gift of Lon C. Hill, 1968.93.1 (A&B) LIC
Buck Rogers is an action hero in one of America's first science fiction comics. Here, Buck shows that he can fight evil under the sea as well as in outer space. The character reflected America's growing interest in science fiction and the real advances in technology that were rapidly changing the country and the world.
Dick Calkins, the original artist for the comic strip, drew it from 1929 until 1947. He began his illustration career after serving in WWI in the Army Air Service (just as had his best known character, Buck Rogers!).

Wendell Minor (b. 1944)
"Portrait of Buzz Aldrin, Gemini XII," 2009
For Buzz Aldrin: Look to the Stars, text by Buzz Aldrin Penguin Group Inc., New York, 2009
Gouache watercolor
2009.111.1 LIC
In his illustrations for Buzz Aldrin: Look to the Stars, Wendell Minor uses accurate detail and a colorful style to show America's fascination with air travel and space exploration, past and future.
Portrait of Buzz Aldrin, Gemini XII depicts Aldrin's first space flight, and in First Moon Landing, he and Neil Armstrong land on the surface of the moon. In Look to the Stars and Your Future in Space, Minor places his young readers in the role of the discoverer. The book is dedicated "To a new generation of young explorers. May you learn from those who have gone before."
Minor, an award-winning artist, lives in Washington, Connecticut, where his love of nature and concern for the environment strongly influence his work.
Cora Lynn Deibler (b. 1963)
"Kitten on the Keys," 2001
For a poem by Robert Hallmann, Spider Magazine
By Cricket Magazine Group, Carus Publishing, Chicago, April 2002
Watercolor and ink on paper
Gift of the artist, 2012.24 LIC
A kitten scampers across the keyboard causing a commotion. The wary canary watches the noisy fun unfold. Just like the kitten, Cora Lynn Deibler's vivid, colorful work seems to jump off the page.
Deibler is a Connecticut-based artist who has created a wide range of illustrations for children's books, including the Dangerfield Twins series, as well as books, stories and poems for adults.
Harrison Cady (1877-1970)
"Cartoon for Burgess Series," 1916
For Life magazine, September 6, 1917
Ink and wash on paper
Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1954.37 LIC
In Cartoon for Burgess Series, Harrison Cady presents a highly-detailed drawing of silly, anthropomorphic animals. Here, Mr. Possum has asked Artist Frog to paint his portrait upside down as their friends eagerly observe them. Mr. Turtle remarks in the caption that appears in the magazine, "Great Heavens! What's the matter?" Artist Frog replies, "Why, I've just got a commission to paint Mr. Possum's portrait, and he insists on posing upside down."
Cady spent his career primarily as a magazine illustrator for Life, Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, Ladies' Home Journal and other publications. His best-known work was his series of illustrations of the early Peter Rabbit as conceived by the author Thornton W. Burgess.

James Warhola (b. 1955)
"Down He Climbed, Faster than a Falling Bean, to Show his Mother the Magic Hen," ca. 1989
For Jack and the Beanstalk retold by Susan Pearson
Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, 1989
Watercolor and ink on paper
Gift of the artist, 1997.36 LIC
In his illustration for Jack and the Beanstalk, James Warhola beautifully captures Jack's escape from the giant with his stolen treasure (a magic hen) in hand. Warhola's handling of color and perspective from soaring, frightful heights ignites the excitement and suspense of Jack's descent.
Warhola, nephew of the renowned Pop artist, Andy Warhol, is a successful artist in his own right. He has designed over 300 science-fiction and fantasy covers. Since 1987, he has concentrated on illustrating children's books. His latest releases include picture books of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs The Surrey with the Fringe on Top and My Favorite Things.
Lulu Delacre (b. 1957)
"Señor Cat's Romance," 1997
From Señor Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America by Lucia M. Gonzalez
Scholastic Press, New York, 1997
Watercolor and gouache on Arches cold press watercolor paper
Gift of the artist, 2002.28 LIC
Señor Cat's Romance (El Romance de Don Gato) is an old Spanish story and rhyming song. Lulu Delacre explained that since the story is originally from Spain, she dressed the colorful cats in Spanish costumes and used Latin-American flavor for the setting. The decree in the bottom right corner informs Señor Cat that he must marry a "beautiful maiden niece of a great nobleman."
Delacre credits her grandmother for encouraging her artistic endeavors. The artist was born in Puerto Rico and uses her heritage as a source of inspiration.
Howard Pyle (1853-1911)
"Tom Chist and the Treasure Box," 1891
For Tom Chist and the Treasure Box, by Howard Pyle Harper's Round Table, March 24, 1896
Later reproduced in Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates,
Harper & Brother's Publishers, New York, 1921
Pen and ink on paper
Gift of Steven Kidd, 1970.32.1-2 LIC
Tom Chist and the Treasure Box is a vignette from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates. The story is based on a legend of the infamous English privateer, sea captain and supposed pirate, William "Captain" Kidd (ca. 1645-1701). The drawing on the left depicts the moment when the protagonist, Tom Chist (an orphaned boy from a shipwreck), witnesses Kidd and two of his mates burying a treasure box in the sand dunes near the tip of Delaware Bay. The illustration on the right portrays the slaying of the African American mate who helped carry the treasure chest to its hiding place.
Howard Pyle is considered the "Father of American Illustration." He played a pivotal role in the formation of the Brandywine School, where his students included N. C. Wyeth and Harvey Dunn. His simple and spare use of line demonstrates his exceptional draftsmanship and appreciation for the virtuoso engraving, etching and woodcut techniques of the Old German Master Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).
Hilary Knight (b. 1926)
"Summertime Tongue Twisters," August 1996
For Spider, A Magazine for Children
Watercolor and graphite on paper
Gift of the artist, 1997.33 LIC
Summertime Tongue Twisters shares the whimsy, humor and charm of Hilary Knight's best-known work: his illustrations for Kay Thompson's Eloise. Here, the impish expressions on the faces of the boy and the girl add to the playful spirit of the tongue twisters.
Son of Clayton Knight and Katherine Sturges, Knight credits his artistic beginnings to "the fact that both my parents are artists and writers. My father, Clayton Knight, is well-known for his aviation paintings and books. My mother, Katharine Sturges, has done fashion drawings, fabric designs as well as many children's books." Knight's own work has appeared in Mademoiselle magazine, House and Garden, Good Housekeeping, Gourmet, the children's magazine, Cricket, as well as on greeting cards, Broadway musical posters, album covers and children's fashion advertisements.
Nicholas Napoletano (b. 1990)
From left to right:
"Discovering West Rock," 2013
"Beheading of Charles I," 2013
"Metacomet," 2013
"Approaching Hadley," 2013
"The Angel of Hadley," 2013       
"Triumph of the Settlers," 2013
For The Mystery of West Rock, 2013
Written by Douglas Hyland and edited by Carolyn Nims
New Britain Museum of American Art, 2013
Oil on board
Courtesy of the artist
Beautiful, epic and masterful, Nicholas Napoletano's illustrations illuminate the narrative of The Mystery of West Rock, a book meant to enrich our experience of artwork and history. They complement the drama of the story by playing with light and shadow, cinematic perspectives and a sense of movement and immediacy. Napoletano's panoramas are painted in the style of the Hudson River School, further complementing a story centered around Frederic Church's masterpiece West Rock, New Haven (on view in the neighboring Martin Gallery). These images are flush with detail and will delight the careful viewer, instilling a refreshed sense of wonder.


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