Book Cover Artist
The "golden age of illustration" from the 1880s until shortly after World War I, produced two renowned artists, illustrators and book cover artists, considered to be among the major influences of that period.
Reknowned artist and book cover artist, N.C. Wyeth was born October 22, 1882, in Massachusetts. In October 1902, he attended the Howard Pyle School of Art, begun by Howard Pyle, one of the country's most renowned illustrators. Wyeth's first illustration published was a cover for a 1903 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. He was a regular contributor to Harpers, McClures, Scribners and the Post.
After graduating in 1904, he took several trips into the American West that led to his fame as a Western Adventure illustrator. He illustrated classics such as Arizona Nights by Stewart Edward White and Hopalong Cassidy, by Clarence Mulford. In addition to his work in books, Wyeth did a significant amount of magazine illustration including: Hearst's International, Century, Harper's Monthly, Ladies' Home Journal, McClure's, Outing, and Scribner's.
Wyeth's treatment of Treasure Island (1911), is considered to be his finest group of illustrations as a book cover artist. In addition to Stevenson's Treasure Island, he also illustrated, and was the book cover illustrator, for editions of Kidnapped (1913), Robin Hood (1917), The Last of the Mohicans (1919), Robinson Crusoe (1920), Rip Van Winkle (1921), The White Company (1922), and The Yearling (1939).
His work as an artist and illustrator, places him at the center of the golden age of American illustration, and at the top of any list of the world's preeminent illustrators book cover artists.
Arthur Rackham, another influential artist and book cover artist, was born in London in 1867. While studying at the City of London School, his early work was skillful, but uninspired.
His first book illustrations were published in 1893. These were previously published images from magazines or books, and as yet gave little hint of his prowess as the artist and book cover illustrator he was to become. The first book with illustrations done specifically on commission was in 1896.
He handled nineteen more book assignments during the 1890's, including dozens of pictures for two major children's magazines: Cassell's and Little Folks and even one for the venerable St. Nicholas. His most copious work at the time was in the field of fantasy.
In 1905, he illustrated the Washington Irving classic, Rip Van Winkle. This was Rackham's first major book, containing fifty color images which demonstrated what was to become his signature style as an illustrator and book cover illustrator.
In 1906 Rackham completed Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, including fifty illustrations. In 1907, he illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Grimm's, followed by A Midsummer-Night's Dream in 1908, Undine in 1909, and in 1910 and 1911, The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie and Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods. During this time he developed the style that would have a significant influence on the illustrators, book cover artists and readers of that time, and to this day.